Anna Leask

Anna Leask is senior police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Killer shark attack: cop to be honoured

The policeman shoots  the shark at Muriwai a year ago today in an attempt to retrieve  Adam Strange's body.
The policeman shoots the shark at Muriwai a year ago today in an attempt to retrieve Adam Strange's body.

The policeman who shot a shark during an attempt to recover the body of Adam Strange after an attack at Muriwai a year ago today will be formally recognised for his efforts.

Mr Strange, a father of one, was midway through a training swim when he was attacked by sharks and died in the water.

Lifeguards tried frantically to save the 47-year-old, a local and friend of many at the beach that day. Police were forced to shoot the shark thought to have inflicted the fatal wounds to get the animal to release Mr Strange's body so it could be returned to his family.

To date, the officer who pulled the trigger has declined to speak about his experience. A colleague said he was "just doing his job".

Waitemata police spokeswoman Beth Bates confirmed last night that he was being considered for a formal award.

"The officer has been advised that his actions on 27 February 2013 have earned him a nomination for recognition," she said.

"The exact type of award is still under consideration. The awards and recognition process is one that takes a lot of consideration and looks at a number of factors at various levels of the police so nominations for an act of this type do take a bit of time."

On the anniversary of Mr Strange's death, it will be "business as usual" in Muriwai.

Locals are aware of the significance of today's date, but they are determined not to dwell on the tragedy.

Muriwai Volunteer Lifeguard Service chairman Tim Jago said Mr Strange was a humble man who would have wanted his family and friends to get on with life instead of reliving the pain and trauma of the day he died.

"There's nothing of any great note planned at the beach - just a few people are probably going to get together and have a drink is about all," Mr Jago said.

Mr Strange's widow, Meg, who is now raising their 3-year-old daughter Indigo on her own, has never spoken publicly about the attack.

His mother Jeanette, who lives near Wellington, was emotional when asked how her family would mark the anniversary. "Don't worry, we're going to be remembering him."

In July, coroner Morag McDowell ruled that Mr Strange's death was "a tragic accident, resulting from the very rare occurrence of shark attack".

The lifeguards who tried to save their mate turned down bravery awards and public recognition.

Mr Jago said they still patrol the beach regularly.

nzherald.co.nz
See surfers' guard of honour at: tinyurl.com/strangefuneral

- NZ Herald

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