Picture of Sam Edwardes in 2007, who was bitten by a shark at Belongil yesterday. Picture: Facebook
Picture of Sam Edwardes in 2007, who was bitten by a shark at Belongil yesterday. Picture: Facebook

Shark attack victim’s mate killed by shark 20 years ago

A SURFER attacked by a shark at Byron Bay yesterday was witness to a horrific encounter 20 years ago, watching a great white take his mate who was never seen again.

Suffolk Park man Sam Edwardes was sitting on his board in the water at Belongil Beach about 7am yesterday when a shark tore a chunk out of his leg and board.

Nervous family and friends and were awaiting his outlook from hospital last night as the 41-year-old music teacher recovered from a four hour-plus surgery, understood to be the first of several for his wound.

Matt Kehoe the Detective Inspector and Officer in Charge at Byron Bay Police Station with the surfboard of the shark attack victim.
Matt Kehoe the Detective Inspector and Officer in Charge at Byron Bay Police Station with the surfboard of the shark attack victim.

Earlier, fellow surfers stabilised Edwardes before he was airlifted to Gold Coast University Hospital with his left thigh a bloody mess.

His condition was later downgraded from critical to serious.

The attack comes two decades after a fatal shark attack on his friend Tony Donoghue back in 1999.

Beaches were closed at Byron Bay for 24 hours.
Beaches were closed at Byron Bay for 24 hours.

Edwardes, Donoghue and two others were windsurfing at Hardwicke Bay on South Australia's Yorke Peninsula when Donoghue decided to stay out in the water for a while longer.

His three mates were on shore when the 22-year-old suddenly disappear from sight.

His body was never found but his shredded wetsuit was. A coroner concluded the tears and punctures were from a great white shark.

 

Edwardes' sister Lorelei recalled the 1999 incident derailed his life but he never left it stop him surfing.

"I think when his friend got taken he took that really hard and for a time it really wrecked his life," she said.

"Every year without fail he has done a pilgrimage back to that beach to pay homage to his friend who died.

"But it didn't stop him surfing."

The Edwardes family was not surprised at the news of his attack yesterday.

The bite marks in the surfboard.
The bite marks in the surfboard.

An avid surfer, his father and sister were especially worried that sooner or later he would be at the very least bitten, and at the most, suffer the same fate as his friend.

"My father is hoping this will get him to give up the surfing because in our family there's almost a sense of inevitability with this thing," she said, her voice breaking.

"He surfed virtually twice a day for 20 years and went on surf trips every year.

"I go down to the jetty near me every day and I see them all the time. They're out there.

"In a way I'm not surprised. I am heartbroken and I badly want him to be OK but there was always a chance it was going to happen."

Even though the incident will bring up bad memories, in addition to the new horrors, Ms Edwardes said her brother is the type of man who would prefer to be in pain himself then see others go through it.

He loved to make others laugh, she said.

"The news report said he was in good spirits when he was being taken to hospital, I think he'd take it better having happened to himself then it happen to one of his mates," she said.

"I'm sure in a short time he'll be showing his wounds off at a party.

"He's a very likeable bloke, loves a joke, loves his mates and I think he's come a long way.

"He's just so keen to give others a laugh. I feel very sad for him. Very sad."

Measurements and photographs of the bite have now been sent to the Department of Primary Industries to determine the size and species of shark responsible.

The bite marks on the back of the surfboard.
The bite marks on the back of the surfboard.


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