12 Jul 2020

Teen killed by shark near Coffs Harbour, NSW

8:25 am on 12 July 2020

A teenage boy is dead after being bitten by a shark while surfing off the NSW mid-north coast in an area described as a "shark hotspot".

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Photo: Unsplash / Alister Hitchcock

The 15-year-old was surfing at Wilsons Headland at Wooli Beach, near Grafton and north of Coffs Harbour, just before 2:30pm on Saturday when he was attacked.

The shark attack left him with severe injuries to his legs.

Several surfers came to the aid of the teen and helped him to shore for medical attention.

Despite CPR efforts from paramedics to revive him, the boy died at the scene.

A Surf Life Saving NSW spokeswoman said drones which scan coastline for predators had been concentrated in the mid-north coast area lately.

"We've had numerous incidents, and some fatal, on the mid-north coast and north coast over the years, it is a bit of a shark hotspot," she said.

"But as with most of these things, it's just a very tragic accident."

She said Wooli Beach was unpatrolled at the time as surf patrol season begins in September and runs through to April.

"This time of year there's no lifesaving services, we rely on our call out teams from the nearest branch when there are call outs like this," she said.

Surf Life Saving NSW Duty Officer Peter Sweetman from Yamba, some 80 kilometres north of Wooli Beach, was part of the team on scene on Saturday.

He said his team would be sending a drone up to attempt to locate the shark.

"We will hope to get a jet ski to get on the water with one of our volunteers tomorrow," the spokeswoman said.

"But we are conscious it's in a really remote spot; it's 15 kilometres from the main highway to get to Wooli and this part of the coast is in a national park camping ground."

Wooli woman Helen Dobra said the victim of the attack was a friend of her son's, who had been spearfishing off the coast earlier in the day.

She received the call from a friend about the boy's death, who was well-known in her community, and said she raced down to Wooli Beach.

"It was a really traumatic scene, my heart's still really pumping," she said.

"It's going to be a real shock to our community, we have a really close community in Minnie Water and Wooli.

"Everyone knows the family, we're really close."

Beaches in the area including Wooli, Diggers Camp and Minnie Water were closed after the attack.

NSW Police said they would liaise with the Department of Primary Industries to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death.

A report will be prepared for the coroner.