Gary Johnson Esperance, West Australia man identified as presumed great white shark attack victim off Cull Island. Diving gear found, man’s body unaccounted for.
Cull Island Shark attack: A missing West Australia man who is presumed to have been eaten by a great white shark while diving off a boat near Cull Island has been identified.
Gary Johnson of Esperance was diving Sunday local time just after noon when the man’s partner, Karen Milligan, made a frantic call to authorities from the boat above upon sighting the great white shark.
Milligan’s worse fears were soon realized when nearby boat owners responding to the distress call, soon discovered some of Gary Johnson’s diving gear.
The mauling is believed to have occurred near Cull island, about 7 kilometers offshore from Esperance, The West Australian reported.
‘We found a couple of flippers and a sleeve in the water, basically that was about it,’ local Glenn Quinlivan told the media outlet.
‘There was nothing to see.’
Tragedy that could’ve been averted?
Volunteer marine rescue and water police vessels soon reached the area and launched an urgent search for Mr Johnson’s body along with the shark suspected of taking him.
His wife was taken back to shore where a waiting ambulance took her to Esperance Hospital suffering from shock.
‘We tried to find him. We tried to help her but to no avail,’ Quinlivan reiterated. ‘I really feel for her, she’s obviously witnessed something you don’t want to see.’
It is understood Mr Johnson was an experienced recreational diver.
He was also a well-liked member of the community who worked for a local farming machinery retailer and was a regular at the Esperance Squash Club.
Local man, Peter Hudson told The Australian his friend was a ‘very nice bloke’.
‘People liked him. He did a lot to encourage people to appreciate the beauty of the ocean,’ he said.
Tragically the attack follows a SharkSmart alert from the Surf Life Saving WA Twitter account earlier Sunday morning warning of a public report of a white shark at Cull Island just on at 9.39am local time. It is thought the suspect was unaware of the purported sighting.
Sunday’s tragedy marks the second fatal shark attack in Esperance in three years after 17-year-old Laeticia Brouwer was bitten while surfing with her father at Kelp Beds in April 2017.
The search for Gary Johnson’s body is still ongoing as fisheries officers, police air wing and divers conduct patrols in the area.