Bride pays tribute to husband after shark attack
Wednesday 17 August 2011
The widow of a British man killed by a shark in the Seychelles has paid tribute to her "handsome and caring" husband.
Gemma Redmond said she and her husband Ian were "having so much fun" on their dream honeymoon in the Indian Ocean archipelago before it turned to disaster yesterday.
In an emotional tribute, she said: "Myself, our families and our friends are devastated and shocked by what has happened. The loss of Ian has left a gaping hole in our hearts that will never be filled.
"He was always calm and collected, strong and brave, witty and intelligent, handsome and caring, a remarkable individual who will be deeply and sorely missed. We are privileged and proud to have shared our lives with him."
Mr Redmond, 30, from Lancashire, was savaged by the shark off Anse Lazio beach on Praslin, the second largest island in the Seychelles.
One onlooker described his widow saying she "still had hope" for her husband while he lay on the sand with horrific injuries after the attack.
Earlier this month a 36-year-old French tourist was killed by a shark in the same area.
Government officials have issued a ban on swimming in certain areas until the killer fish is captured.
Mrs Redmond said in a statement released by the Foreign Office: "My husband and my best friend was tragically killed yesterday. I loved him so much and he was a very special husband, a thoughtful son and a devoted brother.
"He worked tirelessly to give us both a wonderful married life and home and I want to thank him for nine years of joy.
"We were having so much fun and we were so excited about our future together."
It was reported that the parents of Mr Redmond and his wife were travelling to the Seychelles following the attack.
Jeanne Vargiolu, 56, owner of a nearby restaurant, said she went to the beach after hearing ambulance sirens to find a French doctor treating the man and "a lot of police officers" surrounding him.
She said police told her the man had lost one arm, had a badly damaged leg and holes in his chest and stomach from shark bites.
"I saw his wife talking to about five people - I think one was English - that she still had hope he was still alive," she said.
She added: "They were trying to help him but they could not get him alive."
Police spokesman Jean Toussaint said the attack happened shortly before 5pm local time while Mr Redmond was swimming.
He said: "We discovered that the British citizen was badly injured on the hips and the arms. He was assisted medically but unfortunately he could not make it.
"We haven't got the autopsy report yet but he definitely lost a lot of blood."
He said Mr Redmond lost an arm in the attack and was taken to hospital, but could not be saved.
"He had no chance of surviving because of the nature of the injuries," he added.
Mr Toussaint confirmed that Mr Redmond and his wife were in the second week of their honeymoon and had been due to fly home on Sunday.
He said "a big effort" was being made to catch the shark.
"We had this first incident two weeks ago and for the local community it was a freak incident because it had never been reported before around the islands. It took everybody by surprise," he said.
Until this month the last recorded fatal shark attack in the Seychelles was in 1963.
Ms Vargiolu said no-one swam in the sea after yesterday's tragedy as they were "in shock".
Her family have lived on the beach for 36 years and she said the two shark attacks this month were the first she had seen.
"It must be the same shark," she said.
Chantal Andre, who works at Anse Lazio's beach restaurant, saw the attack and told the Daily Mail the man's wife did not cry and seemed to be in shock when she accompanied her to hospital.
The newspaper said many of the beaches and snorkelling spots close to Praslin were closed yesterday.
Director for tourism Alain St Ange told the newspaper: "We are taking this very seriously. If there is a rogue shark out there we will try to catch it.
"We have requested shark experts from South Africa to come over to Seychelles to help us identify the type of shark it could be, but this kind of thing has never ever happened in Seychelles before."
Seychelles minister for home affairs and environment Joel Morgan held an emergency meeting in the capital, Victoria.
Praslin is the location of the Vallee de Mai Unesco World Heritage Site, where the rare coco-de-mer tree grows.
It lies 27,9 miles (45km) north of Mahe, the largest island in the archipelago, and measures 6.2 miles (10km) by 2.3 miles (3.7km), according to the official tourism website for the Seychelles.
The Seychelles is one of the most popular exotic destinations for British honeymooners, lying in the Indian Ocean between the Tropic of Capricorn and the equator.
It has warm weather, white sand beaches and the opportunity for seclusion, luxury and romance.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge spent their honeymoon on North Island, four years after they took a week-long break on the island of Desroches.
Mr Toussaint said that the fatal shark attack on the French tourist two weeks ago was treated as a freak occurrence, although warnings were put out via the media.
"The first incident two weeks ago, it was a freak incident in the sense that no attacks had been reported in or around the coastal areas since something close to 50 years back. It was a one-off incident.
"But then there was a second attack in two weeks and it changed the whole complexion of things. So there is a ban on swimming in areas close to where the attack happened yesterday."
Search teams are still trying to find the animal, he said, and discover what species it is by examining a tooth they recovered.
Mr Redmond's father, Stephen, told the Evening Standard: "It's devastating. The last time we saw them they were so happy."
His uncle, Ken Houghton, told the newspaper: "Ian was a really nice guy and well-liked by everybody. He always did the right thing and they made a super couple, very much in love.
"I can honestly say their wedding was the best wedding I've ever been to. It was perfect."
The Rev Tim Barton, who married the couple at St Michael's Church, in the village of Dalton, Lancs, just a few hundred yards from the bride's family home, said: "Myself and the whole community are deeply shocked and saddened by this tragic accident."
Mr Barton, who knows the family as the parents of the bride are both active in the church, added: "Ian and Gemma are well-known and well-loved members of the community and our thoughts and prayers are with Gemma, her parents and the rest of Ian's family at this time.
"I know that the church and the whole community will work together to support Gemma and her parents in the difficult days to come."
Stuart Haynes, media manager for the Anglican Diocese of Liverpool, said: ""The wedding was quite a big occasion for the village and for it to suddenly turn to tragedy in such an unexpected way, people are still trying to take it in.
"Reverend Barton has had lots of telephone calls from parishioners expressing their shock and concern.
"The church and the wider community will do all we can to support the family."
Mrs Redmond is understood to work as a primary school teacher in Lancashire, while her husband was an IT specialist.
The family of Mr Redmond were too upset to talk to reporters at their home in Nelson, Lancs, and neighbours were also in tears.
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