British expat killed in Sydney shark attack ‘loved the water’

The victim, named locally as 35-year-old diving instructor Simon Nellist, was engaged to be married.

17 February 2022

A swimmer mauled to death by a white shark in Australia has been named locally as a British expat.

It is believed 35-year-old Simon Nellist, who has not yet been formally identified by police, was training for a forthcoming charity swim when he was fatally attacked in front of horrified onlookers in Sydney’s Little Bay on Wednesday afternoon.

Friends described Mr Nellist, an experienced diving instructor who was engaged to be married, as someone who “loved the water”.

A search is continuing for the rest of his remains and the white shark believed to be responsible, which left the victim with what medics described as “catastrophic injuries”.

Della Ross, a friend of Mr Nellist, told broadcaster 7News: “Everything that is connected to Simon, to me is connected to the ocean.

“The news hit us like a truck because he is really one of the people that makes this Earth better.”

A neighbour living in the Wolli Creek area of Sydney described Mr Nellist as “such a nice guy”.

Emergency services were called to Little Bay at around 4.35pm local time on Wednesday after reports that a swimmer had been attacked by a shark.

Witness Kris Linto said the shark “came and attacked him (the victim) vertically”.

He told Nine News TV: “We heard a yell and then turned around. It looked like a car just landed in the water – big splash.”

Lucky Phrachnanh, from New South Wales state ambulance, said the victim “suffered catastrophic injuries as a result of the attack”, adding there was nothing paramedics could do when they arrived at the scene.

The incident, believed to be the first fatal shark attack in Sydney since 1963, prompted the immediate closure of more than a dozen beaches in the area until Friday.

A spokesman for the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) said: “Based on footage provided by the public, including eyewitness accounts, DPI shark biologists believe that a white shark, at least three metres in length, was likely responsible.”

It is believed Mr Nellist was training for the 5k Malabar Ocean Swim, due to take place this weekend, when he was killed.

The event has been cancelled as a mark of respect, organisers said.

An event statement read: “The organising committee extends our thoughts and prayers to the family of the swimmer who was so tragically taken yesterday.

“Out of respect for the swimmer and his family, and following wide consultation with Randwick Council and experienced, senior Surf Life Saving personnel, we believe that cancelling the 2022 swim is appropriate.”

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