Australian Surfer, 15, Killed in Southern Coast Shark Attack

great white shark
Getty Images/Stephen Frink

An Australian teen was tragically killed by a shark in front of his terrified father while the pair were surfing off the southern coast Thursday.

15-year-old Khai Cowley was enjoying the surf at Innes National Park’s Ethel Beach when a presumed great white shark attacked him, biting off his leg.

“I started moving down toward the beach and I could see the dad on the rocks sort of yelling and his son swimming towards him,” witness Tim Philip told 7News.

Philip, a local surfer, estimated that the shark was about 13 feet long. He went on to recount how he pulled the mortally wounded boy from the ocean.

“Then it started to head back out to sea. I was in waist-deep water and just made the decision to run back … chest-deep at this point, grab him and managed to drag him back to shore, back to the people on the beach,” he said.

“It was just a matter of… I didn’t want to see his body out to sea, so did what I could,” he added.

Responding paramedics attempted to treat Cowley, but he unfortunately died of his injuries.

Ethel Beach is a popular remote tourist location located off the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia.

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Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) via Storyful

The teen had been on a vacation trip with his family when the harrowing attack occurred.

“A boy with so much potential. He will hold a place in everyone’s heart,” a family friend wrote in a social media post obtained by Sky News Australia.

Locals are now speaking up about the Ethel Beach water’s dangers, with one fisherman telling the outlet that sharks are common in the area.

“We’ve seen some pretty big bronzies in the area, but that’s normal here,” he told the local publication. “I went to take the boat out and the road to Ethel’s was blocked by rangers.”

“Bronzies” refer to a shark species also dubbed coppers or narrowtooths, which can be close to 10 feet in length.

“There’s no cell reception out there in the park so we didn’t know what had happened until we got back to Marion Bay,” the fisherman added.

Cowley, who was a nationally ranked youth surfer, was named “most outstanding grom performer” by his local Seaview Road Board Riders surf club just two weeks before his sudden death.

“Grom,” short for “grommet,” refers to a young surfing competitor under the age of 18.

Surfing South Australia made a sad statement on Thursday.

“We are devastated to learn that a young, talented, and dearly loved member of our surfing community, was the surfer involved in the attack at Ethel Beach, and are absolutely shattered to hear that the incident was fatal,” the community posted on Instagram, alongside a picture of Cowley.

“Our utmost deepest sympathies are with his family,” the statement continued. “We ask that you keep them in your thoughts and respect their privacy as they navigate such a heartbreaking time.”

Australia is home to some of the highest amounts of shark attacks in the world, second only to the U.S., according to the International Shark Attack File.


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