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'They were out of their depth' — Witness recalls rough conditions, rip prior to fatal shark attack

A witness to yesterday’s tragic shark attack at Waihi Beach has described the scenes prior to the dramatic and difficult rescue.

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Amanda Gould described the difficult rescue at Waihi Beach yesterday. Source: 1 NEWS

A woman in her 20s died yesterday afternoon in the first fatal attack in the Bay of Plenty in decades.

Amanda Gould, along with her family and some friends, was swimming at the same spot as the shark victim but only stayed “waist deep” due to strong waves and a rip she said she could feel pulling at her.

“I...just kept pursuing and trying to have a swim but decided to get out because it was just a bit too rough”.

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The woman’s death has been referred to the coroner. Source: 1 NEWS

Gould described seeing a group of people “quite far away from us, probably five to 10 metres out”, she said.

Rāhui put in place for stretch of Bay of Plenty coast after fatal shark attack at Waihi Beach

“They were out of their depth and there was a rip,” Gould said.

“The girl got pulled in the rip, got pulled quite far out the back. She was out there for a long time — I think a while, probably, maybe 10 minutes,” she said.

Gould described the subsequent rescue as difficult, due to the conditions.

“The boat couldn’t get in initially, the waves were so rough. But on the third attempt, and with some help with someone on the beach, they pushed the boat out, got the girl. 

“But they pulled her in and unfortunately had to do CPR on the beach and they were doing it for a really long time.”

Gould said as she packed her family up to leave the beach, there was a shark out in the water. She at first thought “it was actually another person”.

“So I said to the lifeguard, 'What about the other person? And he said, 'Well, actually no, that’s a shark.'”

Gould said the shark was “quite far out — beyond where the water starts breaking”.

Gould’s husband, Aaron, agreed conditions were “quite rough”.

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Police have confirmed a woman has died at the scene. Source: 1 NEWS

The family say they plan to explore “the other side of the beach” and not swim in the area for a while.

Gould says she would, in time, swim in the same spot again, but would be mindful to keep her feet on the ground.

She says despite conditions, lifeguards were quick to complete the rescue “once they could get out to the water”.