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Esperance shark attack: Man killed by great white identified as recreational diver

The body of a diver mauled by a shark off the coast of Western Australia is yet to be found – as his shattered friends and family rally behind his partner who witnessed the attack.

Gary Johnson was killed by what locals believe was a great white shark at about 1.30pm off Cull Island in Esperance, south-east of Perth, on Sunday. 

Emergency crews are still desperately searching for Mr Johnson’s body, while his wife Karen Milligan is being treated in hospital for shock.

Gary Johnson was attacked and killed by a great white shark on Sunday while his diving partner Karen Milligan was treated for shock

Gary Johnson was attacked and killed by a great white shark on Sunday while his diving partner Karen Milligan was treated for shock

Emergency services are still searching for Mr Johnson while his diving partner Karen Milligan - who witness the attack - is being treated for shock. Police pictured at the scene

Emergency services are still searching for Mr Johnson while his diving partner Karen Milligan – who witness the attack – is being treated for shock. Police pictured at the scene 

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.

Mr Johnson had been diving when he was attacked and Ms Milligan, who was in a boat four metres away, frantically called for help over the radio.

One of the first responders – Glen Quinlivan – was setting up his power boat for a day trip when he heard the cries for help. 

‘We tried to find him. We tried to help her but to no avail,’ Mr Quinlivan told The West.

‘I really feel for her, she’s obviously witnessed something you don’t want to see.’ 

Mr Johnson was a recreational diver who loved to share his passion for the ocean

Mr Johnson was a recreational diver who loved to share his passion for the ocean

He said the winds were blowing towards Charley Island when they found evidence Mr Johnson had been taken.

Mr Quinlivan said they saw no sign of Mr Johnson, but found his flippers and part of his wet suit.  

‘I’ve done plenty of free diving around the area. I’ve dived in that spot before… I won’t be again. You always have it in the back of your mind,’ he said.  

The tragic incident marks the second fatal shark attack in three years in the region after a 17-year-old died in 2017.

The attack happened at about 1.30pm off Cull Island in Esperance, south east of Perth, on Sunday

The attack happened at about 1.30pm off Cull Island in Esperance, south east of Perth, on Sunday

Laeticia Brouwer was attacked at Wylie Bay when she was holidaying with her family over the Easter long weekend. 

Sean Pollard was attacked in 2014 by two great white sharks in the area and he lost his left arm and right hand. 

A local told 9 News on Sunday it was ‘only a matter of time’ before the next shark attack.

‘It’s frustrating,’ the person said.

This is the second fatal shark attack in three years in the region after a 17-year-old died in 2017

This is the second fatal shark attack in three years in the region after a 17-year-old died in 2017

‘There have been so many hanging around lately. But what can you do? History is going to keep repeating itself, unfortunately.’ 

Esperance Shire president Ian Mickel told The West losing people in the ocean was tragic.

‘We have thousands of people having a good time on the water and [to] get a fatal shark attack – it’s a major concern,’ he said.

Laeticia Brouwer was attacked and killed by a shark at Wylie Bay when she was holidaying with her family over the Easter long weekend

Laeticia Brouwer was attacked and killed by a shark at Wylie Bay when she was holidaying with her family over the Easter long weekend

‘There is a lot being done with Shark Smart, we’ve got the majority of our surfers contributing to that. Tagged sharks are registering against the buoys [receivers]…but this is really tragic.’

Swimmers have been advised to stay clear of the area and follow local beach closures.

Last month Shelley Payne, Shire of Esperance councillor, said more needed to be done to warn locals about sharks. 

She said she wanted signage near the entrance informing people to check online about shark sightings. 

A member of the public reported seeing a great white shark in the water shortly before the scuba diver was attacked (stock)

A member of the public reported seeing a great white shark in the water shortly before the scuba diver was attacked (stock)

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Written by Angle News

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