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US woman killed by great white

A woman has been killed by a great white in the first fatal shark attack on record in the US state of Maine.

The woman was swimming near Bailey Island – close to the city of Portland – on Monday when she was attacked.

She was named as Julie Holowach, 63, a recently retired fashion executive from New York.

It is only the second shark attack ever recorded in Maine. The species is not common in the region because of its cooler waters.

Ms Holowach was swimming just 18 metres (60ft) offshore with her daughter near Mackerel Cove when she was attacked, according to the Portland Press Herald. The younger woman was uninjured.

A neighbour, Tom Whyte, told the newspaper he had seen the attack from his office overlooking the cove.

“You could hear her giggling and laughing,” Mr Whyte said. “All of a sudden Julie just started screaming for help.

“And all of a sudden Julie went under. It looked like she was pulled under.”

He said Ms Holowach’s daughter had started swimming towards her.

Another witness told the Press Herald there was “a lot of blood in the water”.

Two kayakers helped Ms Holowach get to shore after the attack.

An ambulance was also on hand to help at the scene, but she was later pronounced dead.

A tooth fragment from the scene confirmed she had been attacked by a great white shark, a local official said.

Ms Holowach was reportedly wearing a wet suit and her daughter was not, fuelling speculation locally that the shark may have mistaken the older woman for a seal.

Great whites have been sighted in recent summers in Maine, where many seals swim in local waters.

The only previous such attack recorded in Maine waters happened in 2010 and involved a scuba diver fending off a porbeagle shark, according to the Press Herald report. The diver was not injured.

Ms Holowach had retired early after a highly successful career as a fashion executive, the New York Post reported.

“She’s one of the happiest, most energetic people with the greatest disposition and zest,” long-time friend Karen Murray told the Post, adding that the victim had two children, a son and daughter.

“Julie ran marathons. She actually did triathlons. She was in great, great physical shape. She made her money, and she wanted to spend time with her family.”

She reportedly split her time between her summer home in Maine, New York City and Naples, Florida.

Sharks have been sighted in various places off the north-east US coast in recent weeks, particularly around Long Island in New York, the AFP news agency reports.

There have also been previous sightings around Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where a surfer was killed by a great white in September 2018.


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