Swan River shark attack: Stella Berry, 16yr old Perth, West Australia girl killed by shark after diving into river to swim with dolphins only to be attacked and mauled by shark.
‘In the wrong place at the wrong time.’ A 16 year old Australian girl who was mauled to death by a shark in front of horrified onlookers after jumping in shallow waters to join a pod of dolphins has been identified.
Stella Berry, a student at Shenton College in Perth was relaxing by a rope swing with her friends in the Swan River in North Fremantle, Western Australia, circa 3.30pm on Saturday after an afternoon of jet-skiing with friends, when she saw a pod of dolphins and decided to jump in the water to join them.
As the unsuspecting girl dived in, a shark which had entered the normally shark free river suddenly found herself in the grips of a shark, as it bit down on one of her legs.
Heroic onlookers, including some people on jet skis, called emergency services and tried to save her life.
However, the schoolgirl had severe leg injuries and died on the scene.
‘vibrant and happy girl who had plans of living in Europe after school.’
Shenton College principal Michal Morgan said Stella’s death had caused ‘great sadness, sincere empathy and the deepest regret’.
‘I understand and respect that people respond to grief and loss in different ways, and that a loss such as this can trigger a broad range of emotional responses that are not always anticipated or evident,’ Mr Morgan told Western Australia Today.
‘I have personally offered, on behalf of the College, our condolences and support to Stella’s family during this very sad time.’
Both Ms Berry’s parents are teachers. Speaking to media, Sophie and Matt Berry, said Stella was an experienced water user including going skurfing, which is similar to water skiiing.
‘She had her skippers ticket and often took friends out on the river for a day of skurfing,’ her parents said according to 9news.com.au.
According to her parents, Stella was a ‘vibrant and happy girl’ who had plans of living in Europe after school.
In the aftermath of Saturday’s tragedy, Perth residents left flowers at the site of the mauling as the beach remained closed for a second day.
‘It could have been us…’
Perth local, Joshua Banks, 16, was rope swinging with six friends nearby before the gruesome attack unfolded.
‘Me and my mates Jacob and Harry saw them – we actually watched them pass through the bridge as we (were) rope swinging,’ he told The Daily Telegraph.
‘They passed and we saw them get off the jet skis near the beach and jump off and swim to the shore quickly.’
The teen described what he saw as a ‘completely random attack’ and said he and his friends were left ‘shaken’ by the event.
‘We were completely unaware of this attack and had been swimming and jumping off for about an hour to 45 minutes,’ he said.
He added that his friends were ‘aware it could’ve been us’ instead.
‘in the wrong place at the wrong time’
Witnesses told police that a man bravely dived into the water to pull the teenage girl out, describing him as a ‘hero’, but paramedics were unable to save her.
Amid a string of reports, WA Police initially thought that the teen girl may have initially been injured by a boat propeller.
An expert from Australian Marine Conservation Society said the attack was random and the teenager was ‘in the wrong place at the wrong time.’
‘It’s exceptionally rare, which is what I suppose makes it all the more tragic,‘ Dr Leo Guida said.
Fremantle District Acting Inspector Paul Robinson described the incident as ‘traumatic’.
‘It’s an extremely traumatic event for everyone involved and everyone who knew the young girl, so I won’t be going into the extent of the injuries.
‘It is unusual for a shark to be that far down the river … at this point in time an alert has been put out, a shark warning just to let people know this incident has taken place.
‘What we’ve been advised issues with friends on the river, they were on Jet Skis, there was possibly a pod of dolphins been seen nearby, and the young female jumped in the water to swim nearby the dolphins.’
Police didn’t go into details about her injuries and did not confirm what species of shark was involved in the attack. Media outlets have told of unconfirmed reports of the predator being a bull shark.
The weekend attack was the first fatal shark attack in the Swan River in a century.
Police and fisheries are patrolling Swan River in a bid to try and find the shark that took Stella Berry’s life. To date, authorities have yet to locate the ocean dweller.