Australian Shark Attack Kills Woman, Leaves No Trace

Pam WrightLife

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A woman reportedly "taken by a shark" off a popular east coast Australian beach Thursday is presumed dead.

Christine Armstrong, 63, was doing what she does on a daily basis — completing a swim from a wharf to the shore with her local swimming club.

During the swim, Armstrong complained of back pain and told her husband she was heading back to shore. She never made it back.

According to police, she was attempting to swim 600 meters (2,970 feet) between the wharf and beach near the village of Tathra, 340 kilometers (210 miles) south of Sydney, when the attack occurred.

"It's a beautiful little coastal village and this is one of those sad things that can happen," said local council general manager Leanne Barnes.

The swimming group later said they noticed a large 11-foot shark swimming nearby. The group, fearing for their safety, stayed close together as they swam back to the beach club.

Police Inspector Jason Edmunds said another witness on some nearby rocks spotted a large shark attacking something in the water roughly 150 yards offshore, which he believed to be a swimmer.

"The community is in shock, and the husband is taking it hard, as he has been with her since they were kids," said Edmunds.

"Cancer, heart attacks -- those are all things we fear but expect, but who gets taken by a shark?"

Police said a helicopter and boat were being used to search for remains.

It is believed the woman was a lifeguard, according to a post on the Surf Life Saving New South Wales website.

The other lifeguards she was swimming with are receiving counseling, the post said.

"The thoughts of all Surf Lifesavers in NSW are with the victim's family and friends and also with the members still involved in the search effort," said the post. "Tathra beach is closed and although nearby beaches north and south are unpatrolled at this time of year, Surf Life Saving is advising swimmers to stay clear of the water until further notice."

Image via YouTube

Pam Wright