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Kaelah Marlow: Great white shark victim suffered ‘unsurvivable blood loss’ before lifeguards rescued her

Coroner Michael Robb ruled there was nothing the lifeguards could have done the save Kelah Marlow’s life
Kaelah Marlow suffered ‘unsurvivable blood loss’ before being rescued, a coroner ruled (Getty Image and Kaelah Marlow/Facebook)
Kaelah Marlow suffered ‘unsurvivable blood loss’ before being rescued, a coroner ruled (Getty Image and Kaelah Marlow/Facebook)

WAIHI BEACH, NEW ZEALAND: New spine-chilling details have emerged into the death of a 19-year-old Australian teen, who suffered “massive and unsurvivable blood loss” after being mauled by a vicious great white shark. 

Kaelah Marlow, 19, was enjoying her time in the water with her friends at Waihi Beach, on New Zealand's North Island on January 7, 2021, when a 2.8 meter great white shark attacked her. The teen was attacked shortly after her friends returned to shore as they felt the current had become too strong. The lifeguards managed to rescue her and whisk her back to the shore but failed to save her life.


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Now, a year and a half later, Coroner Michael Robb on Wednesday, November 16, ruled that there was nothing the lifeguards could have done to save Marlow’s life as she had suffered "massive and unsurvivable blood loss" from a "single massive bite". The coroner's report stated that the lifeguards were keeping an eye on the group and then made a decision of launching a rescue boat to take Marlow out of the water after her friends came back on the shore.

The report added that the young woman was just 300 to 400 meter away when the rescue boat was launched and she didn’t even look distressed or in “obvious difficulty.” However, things took a turn for worse, when Marlow suddenly got attacked by a shark before lifeguards could reach her.

One of Marlow’s close friends told the coroner that she got concerned as she saw Marlow ‘panicking’. "Kaelah was really panicking and waving her arm around in the water before being pulled into the boat," the friend said. The coroner said Marlow was alive, conscious, and yelling 'shark' as lifeguards came to save her. "She [a lifeguard] saw lots of blood in the water and the woman was yelling that she had been bitten by a shark," the report said.

The lifeguards then pulled her up on the rescue board and whisked her back to the shore. “Lifeguards lifted her into the boat and quickly transported her to shore and signaled for help.” The attack was described as a “single massive bite”.

A male witness, who was not part of the group, described seeing someone in the water “and something in the water around the person, which he thought at the time was seaweed or some other people. He then watched from shore as the lifeguards pulled a limp body from the water into the IRB and immediately came back to the beach.” The man even helped the lifeguards to get the boat on shore and pressured the jaw wound on Marlow’s right thigh until they applied a tourniquet to it. But despite restless efforts by the lifeguards and her friends, Marlow succumbed to her injuries on the beach.

"The woman was making noises but not responding to voices and she appeared to suffer a small seizure," the coroner found. A lifeguard recalled the moment they reached Marlow on an IRB and heard her “start to yell and scream. She saw lots of blood in the water and the woman was yelling that she had been bitten by a shark. They could see that she had suffered a massive bite to her right leg. She lost consciousness as they drove the boat into the shore.”

"It was likely Marlow had already suffered massive and unsurvivable blood loss by the time lifeguards arrived and pulled her out of the water," coroner Robb said. "I conclude that the lifeguards were appropriately undertaking their responsibilities to observe Kaelah and were already actively taking action to check on her when she suffered her fatal injury."

The coroner gave recommendations to help prevent or reduce the risk of serious injury or death from shark attacks. "Shark attacks are rare but when carried out by a great white shark the attack is likely to be fatal," the report read.