Surfer Killed in Shark Attack on Australian Father's Day: 'Incredibly Devastating'
A man has died after authorities say he was attacked on Sunday by a shark while surfing at an Australian beach — and his pregnant wife shared her grief on social media soon after the tragedy.
Officials with the New South Wales Ambulance confirmed the incident in a post on Twitter, saying that it occurred at Emerald Beach in New South Wales, just north of Coffs Harbour.
Paramedics said they responded to the scene on Sunday morning after receiving reports of a shark attack.
When they arrived, authorities discovered that a man — who was believed to be in his 20s — had suffered "significant injuries" to his upper body, NSW Ambulance inspector Chris Wilson told reporters, according to 9News Australia.
It was later determined that the man was surfing when he was attacked by what officials believe was a Great White Shark, the network reported. The predator ended up latching onto the man's arm before it grabbed hold of his shoulder.
"It was incredibly devastating for everyone involved," Wilson told 9News. "A number of bystanders, local surfers, came to the man's aid and were very brave in a very challenging situation."
A fellow surfer, who was at the scene during the traumatic ordeal, also told 9News: "I saw a lady run down and everyone's yelling out to get out of the water."
Though bystanders, paramedics and other emergency service personnel provided their "best efforts" in saving the man's life, he died of his injuries at the scene, the NSW Ambulance confirmed in a tweet.
A spokesperson for the NSW Police Force told PEOPLE they would not be identifying the victim, but the man's wife confirmed his name as Tim Thompson in a tribute on Facebook.
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"My Husband, My Best Friend and Baby Daddy has been taken from this world," Katie Thompson wrote on Sunday, which was Father's Day in Australia. "To say I'm heartbroken would be an understatement. I'm just waiting for someone to tell me this isn't real."
Katie, who is currently pregnant, went on to express her heartbreak for their unborn child, who will never get to meet their father.
"You would of [sic] been the best daddy," she wrote. "I promise to tell our baby every day how amazing their daddy was, how you never spoke a bad word about anybody, how kind and caring you were and most importantly how much you loved that little bubba growing in my tummy."
"Never in a million years did I think I would be doing life without you," she added of her husband. "Life can be tragic and unfair, but I take some comfort knowing how loved Tim was by everyone, the time we did have together was amazing and full of adventures. I am incredibly blessed that we met and our love story gets to live on with our baby."
A GoFundMe was later set up on Katie's behalf to assist her with funeral expenses as well as living and baby costs. The fundraiser stated that she and Tim married in March after COVID-19 postponed their wedding in 2020.
Their baby is expected to arrive in January, according to the fundraiser.
"He was the most kind, generous and lovable man who loved the ocean and surfing but most of all his family," the page reads. "We are all so devastated that such a tragedy could happen to this beautiful family who had everything to look forward to."
Following the incident, a number of beaches around the area were closed for 48 hours as police patrolled the water, CNN reported, citing NSW police.
The fatal incident marks the sixth unprovoked shark attack in NSW this year, according to 9News.
A 2020 report by the University of Florida's International Shark Attack File found that the United States leads the world with the most unprovoked shark bites, with 33 confirmed cases. Australia follows with 18 cases.