Saturday, March 01, 2008

Inquest of Great White shark fatal attack on diver continues...

A MAN fought for his life against a great white shark before it dragged him off and killed him during a diving trip, an inquest has been told.

Justin Rowntree told the Coroner's Court in Adelaide today about the attack on 23-year old Jarrod Stehbens at Glenelg in August 2005.

The pair was carrying out research for the University of Adelaide at the time.

"I was looking at Jarrod when I felt a whack on the back which rotated me around," Mr Rowntree said. "Initially I thought it was a dolphin but pretty quickly I realised it was not."

Mr Stehbens, a "highly experienced diver" then fought for his life against the 5m shark. "It went straight towards Jarrod, initially he whacked it directly on the snout and it seemed to go away momentarily," Mr Rowntree said.

"Then it came back and took his leg and dragged him under ... it happened like a flash."

The students had almost finished their dive for cuttlefish eggs at the popular Glenelg Tyre Reef.
Mr Rowntree said the dive would have been Mr Stehbens' last in South Australia before he went to live in Germany. Mr Rowntree told the court he believed there was a low risk of encountering a great white shark off Adelaide's suburban beaches.

"Sometimes we would have a bit of a joke about it, just knowing that they are out there," he said. Neither diver was wearing an electrical device known as a shark shield at the time.

Mr Rowntree said that while he was unaware there were shark shields on the dive boat, he probably would not have worn one anyway.

"The ones that existed, that apparently were on the boat at the time, were big cumbersome things," he said.
The court was told that the wearing of shark shields was made compulsory by the university after the tragic attack.

The inquest continues.


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