A kayaker who desperately tried to save a New York woman as she was being mauled to death by a great white shark said the only thing on his mind at the time was “to get out there and help.”
In a new interview Wednesday, Charlie Wemyss-Dunn described the heart-racing ordeal that left Julie Dimperio Holowach dead two days earlier on Bailey Island.
“My wife had been sitting outside at the time, she started screaming my name,” Wemyss-Dunn said on “Good Morning America.”
“I initially thought someone was in distress out there.”
Wemyss-Dunn flew out of his rental house, with him and his wife rushing out into the water on a tandem kayak they had rented.
“We paddled out frantically to try and reach the poor woman who was lying immobile,” he recalled, according to ABC affiliate WMTW. “I wasn’t really sure what the situation was. My wife was sure because she had unfortunately seen the attack.”
But then, his wife began to panic — forcing him to paddle back to shore and drop her off, as his mother climbed into the kayak.
The two then reached Holowach, who had been swimming about 20 yards out with her daughter.
“We initially tried to keep her head out of the water with a paddle because we didn’t want her to drown,” Wemyss-Dunn said. “My mom held her hand and we gently pulled her in to the shore and waiting there were the neighbors who were able to take her arms and pull her up to the rocks.”
“It really wasn’t a heroic act,” he added. “We didn’t think of doing anything else. That was the only thing on our mind was to get out there and help as best we can. I’m just very upset we couldn’t do more.”
Holowach, 63, was pronounced dead at the scene. Her daughter was not injured.
“Our thoughts are with the family,” Wemyss-Dunn said. “The grieving process they must be going through is unimaginable.”
Maine officials believe the shark mistook the fashion executive — who had retired early and had a home in Maine — as a seal because she was wearing a black wet suit.
Her death marks the first known fatal shark attack in the state.
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