9 January 21
Kaelah Marlow has been named by police as the 19-year-old woman killed by a shark in waters off Waihī Beach on New Zealand's North Island.
The teen from Hamilton, about 120kms south of Auckland, was pulled out by a rip and seen bobbing in the water for 15 minutes before rescuers could get to her.
Witness Amanda Gould was swimming just five metres away, at the Bowentown end of Waihī Beach, yesterday before Marlow was swept out to sea.
Ms Gould was swimming waist-deep with her husband and two boys, aged eight and 10, when she saw the victim separated from her group and pulled out to deep water.
"We were in the water at the same time as the girl and her friends - they were about five metres in front of us, but they kept getting further and further out," Ms Gould told Stuff.
"She got separated from all her friends and was pulled really far out, beyond where the surfers would sit."
Ms Gould didn't feel comfortable in the water due to a strong rip and decided to head back into shore.
That's when the horrors unfolded in front of her.
She estimated that the woman was out there for at least 15-minutes before people realised she needed help.
"You could tell she was struggling because there is no way she would go that far out," Ms Gould said. "No one saw her waving out, but I did hear a scream."
Lifeguards then came to her aid.
Ms Gould said it took about five minutes to get the rescue boat out to her due to rough conditions.
"It was so rough and every time they tried to push the boat out it kept coming back in."
It wasn't until the victim was pulled from the water, and taken to shore, that Ms Gould realised what happened.
"I thought there was another person out there, but the lifeguard said 'no, that's a shark, we need to get people out of the water,'" she said.
"So I was watching the shark's fin go around, not another person. I didn't see any blood - she was alive and when they got to shore, they started CPR straight away."
It was chaos, Ms Gould said, there were people panicking.
"It was shocking, surreal, and we were all a bit freaked out - it keeps playing on my mind."
"I'm really sad for the girl and I feel for the family. It's so shocking that someone's life can be taken away just by that one event, one minute she's swimming and the next she's pulled out and then that happened. It's quite dreadful."
Stuff understands that the victim had bite wounds to at least one of her legs and that the shark involved was a white pointer (great white).
A post-mortem, being carried today, will provide police with a clearer understanding of what happened, however the Coroner will ultimately determine the cause of death.