Adam Strange, a 46-year-old film director, was killed Wednesday while swimming off New Zealand’s Muriwai Beach. According to The New Zealand Herald, nearby angler Pio Mose first saw the shark coming towards the filmmaker. Mose tried to warn Strange, but by then it was too late.
“It’s awful–it’s scary like a nightmare to me,” Mose told the Herald. “All I was thinking was I wanted to jump in the water and help but I didn’t want to get attacked by a shark too.”
Police suspect that a group of three great white sharks were involved in the attack and targeted Strange when he swam too close. Lifeguards and police rushed to the scene as panicked swimmers fled the water, hoping to reach Strange on a inflatable rescue craft . Overhead a helicopter surveyed the situation but could not get a clear shot at the predators mangling the swimmer.
By the time the inflatable got to Strange, he was already dead. One of the officers reportedly used a rifle to shoot and kill one of the sharks, causing it to release Strange’s body.
The filmmaker was married and had a two-year-old daughter. In the biographical section on his website, Strange professes a love of surfing, skiing, biking, and fruit smoothies. He had been recently awarded Best Short Film at the Berlin Film Festival for Aphrodite’s Farm, a fairy tale set on a dairy farm.
Numerous beaches on New Zealand’s west coast have been shut down in the aftermath of the attack. Officials stress that shark attacks are very rare and records show only about a dozen attacks in the area for the last two hundred years. The shark that attacked Strange was described by bystanders as close to 14 feet long. Police are working to recover the creature’s body.