Esperance woman returns to site of husband’s fatal shark attack
An Esperance woman has returned to the ocean one year after her husband was fatally mauled by a shark.
Gary Johnson was diving with his wife Karen Milligan near Cull Island in January 2019 when he was attacked by a great white shark.
Police divers and emergency crews searched the area for days but his body was never recovered.
Ms Milligan recounted the horrific moment her husband was taken, on 6PR Breakfast this morning.
“We were diving, Gary was a little bit ahead of me, he’d just dropped down behind a little knoll,” she said.
“When I went over the top of the knoll there was this huge tail.”
Ms Milligan said she thought it was a whale but when she realised it was a shark, it quickly “turned into tragedy.”
Gary’s death was one of three fatal shark attacks in the Esperance community within the space of three years.
“There is huge fear in the town, people aren’t swimming, they’ve got this primal fear of sharks,” Ms Milligan said.
On the anniversary of Gary’s death Ms Milligan and other community members returned to the site of the tragedy.
“10 people did a dive in a spot close to where Gary was taken,” she said.
“That was our go to place we just loved it.
“For me it was really important as sort of a memorial for Gary, and for the town we were hoping to allay the fears they have of getting back into the water.”
The Gary Johnson Foundation has been launched to honor the the 57-year-old and to promote a “healthy ocean” around the Recherche Archipelago.
“We want to focus on human interaction with the ocean and how we can impact on it,” she said.
Ms Milligan hopes a marine park will be set up in the waters of Esperance.
“We want to take the baseline back to 50 years ago and see if we can get our beautiful ocean back.”
Click play to hear the full interview.
(Photo: Nine News.)