Woman Witnessed Shark Attacking Her Husband, Watched Ocean Fill With Blood

The wife of a shark attack victim saw the water around her husband fill with blood as the animal's tail flapped up and down, a coroner's inquest in Western Australia has heard.

Details of the horrifying incident seen by Karen Milligan were provided to the hearing, which ended with a coroner formally declaring that her husband, Gary Johnson, was deceased, WA Today reported.

The attack occurred on January 5 as the couple were diving together at a spot known as Devils Rock off the town of Esperance on Western Australia's south coast.

Shortly after the pair anchored their boat and dived underwater around midday, a great white shark mauled Johnson, who was 57 years old at the time and an experienced diver.

Senior Constable Craig Robertson, an officer assisting the coroner, told the hearing that Milligan saw a "large shark tail flapping up and down" as she swam towards her husband of 14 years while the water around him filled with "blood and sand."

"She swam forward in an attempt to strike the tail [of the shark] with the camera she was holding and is unsure if she made contact," he said. "Normal visibility quickly returned and Ms. Milligan saw no sign of the shark, nor Mr. Johnson."

As Milligan swam back towards the surface, she bumped into her husband, realizing that "his eyes were open, but he was unresponsive," Robertson said.

"She saw that he had suffered a traumatic injury to his right arm and was no longer wearing his mask or air tank," he said.

Milligan tried to pull Johnson back onto their boat but she was not able to and eventually she let her husband go.

"Ms Milligan had formed the belief that her husband was no longer alive and her attempts to get him on-board the boat were futile," Robertson said. "She released him from her grip and he sank beneath the waves."

Milligan was present at the hearing as details of the incident were read out, with family by her side comforting her.

After the attack in January, emergency responders began a search for Johnson but his body was never found. Small pieces of his wetsuit, flippers and other diving gear were later discovered, with DNA analysis of the items revealing that the shark responsible for the attack was a great white.

"The items showed clear signs of a shark attack," Robertson said during the hearing, according to news.com.au.

At the end of the hearing, Coroner Sarah Linton formally declared that Johnson had died and offered her condolences to Milligan and the family. He will now no longer be considered a missing person.

"From the moment of the attack, there was nothing that you could have done," Linton said to Milligan. "It was a sudden, fatal attack."

great white shark
Stock image showing a great white shark. A coroner's inquest in Western Australia has heard of the horrifying moment that a wife watched a shark maul her husband. iStock