Father-to-be Timothy Thompson died after a shark attack in Coffs Harbour on Father's Day. (Supplied: Katie Thompson)
6 September 21
From ABC Coffs Coast: The pregnant wife of a man killed in a shark attack on the New South Wales Mid North Coast has paid tribute to her husband on social media.
Father-to-be Timothy Thompson, 31, died after his arm was mauled by what was believed to be a white shark at Emerald Beach at Coffs Harbour on Sunday.
In the Facebook post, Mr Thompson's wife Katie described her husband as her best friend and "baby daddy".
"To say I'm heartbroken would be an understatement," she said. "I'm just waiting for someone to tell me this isn't real.
"All I know right now is that I have no choice but to keep going, because I have a little piece of you growing in me.
"My heart aches for our baby who will never get to meet you. You would have been the best daddy."
Ms Thompson said in the post that she promised to tell their 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".
She wrote that the last thing MR Thompson said to her before he walked out that door for the last time was "I love you two".
"He kissed me and my tummy goodbye," she said.
Meantime, a heavy feeling remains in Emerald Beach following yesterday's fatal shark attack.
Emerald Beach surfer Dan Heather, one of the first responders, said it was "confronting".
"It wasn't okay at all. He was slipping out of consciousness," Mr Heather said.
"We probably gave CPR for 40 minutes until the Westpac chopper arrived."
Despite the best efforts of first responders and paramedics including critical care specialists aboard the Westpac Rescue Helicopter, the man died at the scene.
Mr Heather said the whole community did what they could.
"Locals ran up to the paramedics and ran all their gear down to the beach — probably 500 metres," he said.
"Emerald Beach is such a close community, our hearts go out to the family."
Mr Heather said there was a lot of movement in the water that day.
"It's not uncommon to surf with dolphins, but further out we could see bigger schools of fish. I wasn't surprised," he said.
Shelly Beach, Emerald Beach, and Serenity Beach reopened today after they were shut for 24 hours following the tragedy.
Coffs Harbour City Council lifeguard team leader Greg Hackfath said surveillance, since the incident, has not found any shark activity.
"I've had the drone in the air but seen nothing, so we'll open up again," Mr Hackfath said.
School shocked by tragedy
A high school in the region was providing support to its staff and students who witnessed the attack.
The principal of Coffs Harbour's St John Paul College, Michael Carniato, has sent an email to the school community to offer counselling and support.
"Given that we are in lockdown, we wanted to reach out to families to let them know that if they wanted to follow up, we can certainly arrange it," Mr Carniato said.
"It's always a pretty awful feeling, but we do the best we can with the circumstances that we are facing.
"A lot of our families, a lot of our kids, love the ocean and the surf. Your heart goes out when you hear these kinds of stories."
Friends of the Thompson family have opened a GoFundMe page to assist with funeral arrangements and Ms Thompson's preparations for her baby.
The NSW Department of Primary Industries deployed SMART drumlines on Monday morning but has since removed them due to adverse surf conditions.
Water users and beachgoers are advised to follow the NSW SharkSmart Twitter feed or download the SharkSmart app for the latest information on shark movements and sightings.
- SOURCE: ABC COFFS COAST
- AUTHORS: CLAUDIA JAMBOR & KATE AUBREY