Boy tells how he tried to save friend killed by shark

An Australian schoolboy braved bloodied seas yesterday to try to save his friend who had been mauled by a shark off a popular beach while the pair were bodyboarding.

But the victim, Peter Edmonds, 16, died of blood loss after being bitten in the upper leg and body off Ballina, about 500 miles north of Sydney. It was the first fatal shark attack in New South Wales, Australia's most populous state, for 15 years.

Brock Mathew, the victim's friend, was commended for "an extreme act of bravery" after he swam out to help him, despite seeing a circling shark. He brought Peter back to shore and tried to revive him.

With school starting late yesterday because of a teachers' stop-work meeting, the two teenagers had decided to go bodyboarding off Lighthouse Beach. Brock was leaving the water at about 8am when he looked back and saw that his friend was "in a bit of trouble". He paddled back out, and, as he approached his friend, saw a "big grey shadow" pass by him.

Peter was about 50 yards from shore, face down in the water. "I thought he was only joking, so I went over to him, and as I flipped him over, I saw his leg," Brock said. He added: "He didn't make one noise."

After dragging his friend to shore, Brock helped lifeguards and paramedics as they tried to resuscitate him. A spokesman for the surf lifesaving service, Stephen Leahy, said that, as Brock swam towards his friend, "he saw the water turning red".

It was the first fatal shark attack in Australia for two years, and experts said that conditions off Lighthouse Beach, near a river estuary, were dangerous yesterday. Heavy rain had made the sea murky, reducing visibility, and would also have attracted shoals of fish, and, in turn, sharks.

Australia has one of the world's highest rate of shark attacks but few of them are fatal. The Shark Institute of Australia says sharks have killed 11 people off its shores in 50 years. The last fatal attack was in Queensland in early 2006, when a 21-year-old woman was mauled by three bull sharks, which ripped both her arms off before biting into her torso and legs.

A bull shark is also believed responsible for this latest attack. Residents had spotted several of them. Bull sharks are considered the third most dangerous species, after great whites and tiger sharks. Beaches in and around Ballina were closed, as hunters searched for the shark.

Peter Edmonds' 20-year-old sister, Kylie, said her parents were numb from loss. "They are not coping very well. They lost their baby; what more can you say?" she said. "The only boy in the family, and he was such a good kid. He was fun, he was loving ... he was a really friendly guy."

Detective Inspector Steve Clark of Ballina Police, praised Brock, and said that he deserved a medal for his courage. "It was an extreme act of bravery to re-enter the water, and he's still gone in to retrieve his friend," he said. "It's an exceptional act."

Zoologists said the recent downpours would have caused a heavy flow of fresh water into the ocean from the nearby Richmond River, attracting shoals of fish. Sharks are known to congregate near river mouths to feed in rainy weather.

Mr Leahy told ABC radio: "The water was dirty and murky, and it is one of the things which we would always say, that's not a good time to go swimming."

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Sport
Rio Ferdinand returns for QPR
sportRio Ferdinand returns from his three-game suspension today
News
The Speaker of the House will takes his turn as guest editor of the Today programme
arts + ents
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
Sport
Billy Twelvetrees will start for England against Australia tomorrow with Owen Farrell dropping to the bench
rugbyEngland need a victory against Australia today
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
Sport
Tyson Fury poses outside the Imperial War Museum in south London ahead of his fight against Dereck Chisora
boxingAll British heavyweight clash gets underway on Saturday night
News
i100 Charity collates series of videos that show acts of kindness to animals
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Opilio Recruitment: QA Automation Engineer

£30k - 38k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: An award-winning consume...

Opilio Recruitment: UX & Design Specialist

£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Opilio Recruitment: Publishing Application Support Analyst

£30k - 35k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We’re currently re...

Opilio Recruitment: Digital Marketing Manager

£35k - 45k per year + benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game