Fatal Waihī Beach shark attack: Aunty of victim says devastated family are in ‘shock’

An aunty of Waihī Beach shark attack victim Kaelah Marlow says the whole family are in “shock” after the 19-year-old’s death.

Marlow was dragged from the water alive after the attack but paramedics administered CPR on the beach to no avail.

Marlow’s aunty Kylie French told the West Australian the family have been devastated by her death.

“I’m just in shock, everyone is just in shock. We can’t get over there, Mum can’t get over there,” French said.

“You hear about shark attacks, but never in a million years do you think it’ll be someone you know. She was obviously out with her friends having a great time.

“She was a lovely girl, a fun girl, always bubbly, into anything.”

Marlow moved to New Zealand five years ago alongside her parents, Robert and Michelle, and younger sister Georgia, who is 17.

Robert had worked as a miner and moved from Cambridge to Dunedin with his wife and their youngest daughter this past Christmas, French says.

Marlow stayed in Cambridge and had been working on a farm after previously studying a trade apprenticeship.

The teenager was educated at St Brigid’s College in Lesmurdie until they moved to New Zealand, the West Australian reports.

Marlow’s parents reportedly travelled today to identify her body. She would have turned 20 in May.

Police said this evening that the case will be referred to the Coroner.

“Police extend our deepest sympathies to Kaelah’s family and loved ones at this very difficult time,” a police statement said.

The attack was at Bowentown Beach just after 5pm on Thursday and emergency services flooded the area soon afterwards.

The lifeguards who spotted Marlow were patrolling outside of the flags when they spotted her, said Surf Lifesaving New Zealand’s eastern region lifesaving manager, Chaz Gibbons-Campbell.

Matt Lawry says he looked on as they worked to save Marlow and says a man was being comforted by an emergency services member nearby.

“Watching them try to save the young woman without success and seeing the man’s white face was a very traumatic, harrowing experience,” he said.

After CPR efforts stopped, a man walked about 50m to 70m into the sea and began splashing water over himself.

“It was harrowing and I can’t stop thinking about the extreme grief I saw on his face as he left the beach,” Lawry said.

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