A “monster shark” yanked Andrew Sharpe off his surfboard by the leg Friday as the 52-year-old surfed with friends off a western Australia beach, 9 News reported.
His friends paddled over to try to pull Sharpe from the water but the 13-foot shark returned and dragged him underwater, according to the station. He never resurfaced.
A three-day search for Sharpe off Kelp Beds Beach recovered only his damaged surfboard and a few shreds of his wetsuit before being called off Sunday, The West Australian reported.
“We don’t hold any ongoing hope, unfortunately, for Mr. Sharpe’s survival,” Senior Sgt. Justin Tarasinski said, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.
Sharpe, a well-known surfer in nearby Esperance, southwest of Perth, had been surfing with seven friends when the shark attacked, according to the station.
“We know the deal when we go surfing. It is what it is, but you hope it never happens to you or anyone that you know,” said friend Scott Docherty, 9 News reported.
“He was an experienced surfer of 40 years and he loved the ocean immensely,” Sharpe’s family said in a statement, The West Australian reported. “He knew the risks and we knew the risks as well.”
Beaches near Esperance remain closed following the 10:45 a.m. attack, the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development reported.
A shark had been seen off the beach about 9 a.m. Friday and a warning sign was posted at 9:20 a.m., 7 News reported.
At least six people have died in shark attacks on the Australia coast in 2020, CNN reported. There were none in 2019 and only one in 2018.
In 2017, a shark killed Laeticia Brouwer, 17, as she surfed off Kelp Beds Beach with her father, according to the network.
In 2014, a surfer lost an arm and hand in a shark attack off the beach, The Guardian reported.