‘Loved’ teenager killed in SA shark attack named

Khai Crowley died after being attacked while surfing off an SA beach.

Khai Crowley died after being attacked while surfing off an SA beach. Photo: Instagram

A teenage boy killed in a shark attack off the coast of South Australia has been remembered as a talented and dearly loved member of the surfing community.

Khai Cowley was fatally mauled by a suspected great white while surfing off remote Ethel Beach on the Yorke Peninsula, west of Adelaide, about 1.30pm on Thursday.

Emergency services rushed to the popular surfing spot in Innes National Park but were unable to save the 15-year-old’s life.

Surfing SA paid tribute to the talented surfer “grom” from Maslin Beach in Adelaide’s south.

“Khai was very involved in our surfing community with his passion for surfing stemming from a family with deep surfing roots in SA,” the group said on Instagram on Friday.

“He was a happy, kind and respectful kid, very much loved by his surfing peers and he will be greatly missed out in our community and on the water.”


Ryan Valente, a local skipper with Reef Encounters who knows the Marion Bay region well, said it was unusual to see great whites in the area. He couldn’t recall any similar incidents happening before.

“It’s stuff nightmares are made of,” he told ABC Radio on Friday.

“Yesterday itself conditions-wise was a very grim day – lightning, strong winds and it was quite a dark day.

“The town’s in a bit of shock, I guess. Our hearts go out to the family that are involved in the tragic incident.”

Andrew Fox, a researcher at the Rodney Fox Shark Museum, said great whites were ambush predators and murky conditions on Thursday may have increased their activity.

“They’re more motivated – bigger swell, dirty water,” he told ABC Radio.

“Anything that increases the chances of an ambush predator.”

Khai’s death rounds out a horror year for SA beachgoers, with three people killed by sharks and another two injured in the state’s waters in 2023.

Teacher Simon Baccanello, 46, died in a suspected shark attack while surfing at Walkers Rock Beach, about 365 kilometres west of Adelaide, in May before 55-year-old Tod Gendle was killed surfing at Granites Beach on the state’s west coast in October.

Neither man’s body has been recovered.

Fox said the recent uptick in shark attacks was a stark contrast to the relatively low number in the previous eight years.

“These little clusters are more commonly seen in Western Australia and the eastern states,” he said.

“We’re known as a bit of a home to the great white shark. We know so much more about great white sharks but they’re so mysterious still.

“A lot of surf places are also natural feeding grounds of sharks and there’s been a lot of salmon seen swimming through that area in recent times.”

A GoFundMe set up by Khai’s family to help pay for his funeral costs had raised more than $36,000 by Friday afternoon – more than five times its target.


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