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Sunday, December 8, 2013

Zac Young killed by shark at Coffs Harbour

A group of mates were sitting upright on their boards, dangling their legs in the water at the The Well, 5-10 kms north of Coffs Habour last weekend when a tiger shark came up behind Zac Young and severed his legs. Three of Zac's mates didn't panic and run to safety, they paddled him back to the beach, knowing the shark could still be underneath them.

When paramedics finally arrived, it was too late, having lost such an enormous amount of blood, he suffered traumatic cardiac arrest and died on the beach in the arms of his friends.

Zac lived in Port Macquarie and belonged to the local Christian Surfers network.  His close friend Kurt Gillan said "He was loving, compassionate and always happy..... I can't remember a time he wasn't smiling.

(from left) Shayden Schrader, Kurt Gillan and Lindsay Isaac

Zac's father Kevin Young addressed a memorial service at Port Macquarie High School and said "These three young guys didn't run, I want you to know these guys."  He was referring to Shayden Schrader, Kurt Gillan and Lindsay Isaac.

After the service, hundreds of surfers and bodyboarders gathered at Town Beach, Port Macquarie, where they formed a circle in the water and held a minute's silence.

His  pastor said Zac had a "revelation" a few years ago and made a decision to change the way he was living. He turned his back on the wild, partying lifestyle and was training with a Christian organization, Youth for Christ.

Lee Winkler from Coffs Harbour Boardriders said The Well is known to be a risky spot to surf, but it's not unusual for bodyboarders to take risks.

Speaking to ABC radio, he said the area was notorious for attracting sharks.  "It's a heavy, nasty wave for experienced bodyboarders only, it's a left hand break in deep water and it has rocky outcrops all over the place."  

"It's probably two or three hundred metres out to sea, it's a long paddle" he said.  "Those guys, they want to surf big waves, they want to feel the adrenalin and sometimes they're in deep water and sharks are looking for food and fish."  The Well, located 5-10 kilometres north of Coffs Harbour is a large fish nursery.

The chief lifeguard for Coffs Harbour City Counil said shark attacks in the area were rare.  "We've only had two recorded shark attacks ever - that's in 150 years of settlement, so it's highly unusual" he said.