New York City resident Julie Dimperio Holowach was identified as the swimmer killed in a great white shark attack in Maine on Monday, WGME reported, citing the Maine Department of Marine Resources. Holowach was 63 years old.
According to Holowach’s Facebook page, she worked at VF Sportswear and studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Holowach’s Facebook profile is private so only some posts are visible to the public, including posts about contributing to fundraisers for multiple sclerosis and Alzheimers. Holowach’s family did not immediately release a statement.
Officials determined a great white shark was responsible for the attack based on a tooth fragment, the Portland Press Herald reported, citing the Maine Department of Marine Resources.
Holowach, who was wearing a wet suit at the time of the attack, was swimming with her daughter nearly 20 yards off the shore of Bailey Island, the outlet reported. Holowach’s daughter, whose name wasn’t immediately revealed, was not harmed in the incident. She was about 10 to 15 yards behind her mother when the incident occurred, the Portland Press Herald wrote.
Holowach Was Brought to Shore by 2 Kayakers
Two nearby kayakers rushed to bring Holowach to the shore, but she never made it to the hospital. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
The kayakers who brought Holowach to shore had “strong character” to rescue Holowach, Jeff Cooper, director of fun and co-founder of H2Outfitters in Orr’s Island, told the Portland Press Herald.
“It was traumatic for the people who had the courage to go out there and retrieve them. There was a lot of blood in the water,” he said. “They had strong character to go out there and do that. They did what had to be done. We should all be thankful people like that exist.”
After the deadly attack, swimmers and boaters in the area are being cautioned to remain vigilant and to stay away from swimming near large schools of fish or seals.
“I think people should be concerned,” Cooper told the Portland Press Herald, noting that sometimes kayaks can be mistaken for seals. “They need to pay attention, especially with a threat you can’t see in the water.”
Holowach’s Death Was the First Fatal Shark Attack Documented in Maine
As noted by the Portland Press Herald, Holowach’s death marked the first recorded fatal shark attack in Maine’s history. Since they’ve been tracked since 1863, there’s only been one unprovoked shark attack in Maine, a scuba diver in 2010.
According to the Florida Museum of Natural History, globally there were 64 unprovoked shark attacks on humans in 2019. At 41, the U.S. led the world in unprovoked attacks last year, with nearly half of them occurring in Florida. Worldwide there were only two fatal unprovoked shark attacks.
Over recent years, the number of shark attacks has decreased and the Florida Museum of Natural History said the risk of being attacked is low.
“The total number of unprovoked shark attacks worldwide is extremely low, given the number of people participating in aquatic recreation each year,” they wrote. “Fatality rates have declined for decades, reflecting advances in beach safety, medical treatment, and public awareness. This underscores the importance of global efforts to improve ocean rescue, medical care, and shark education.”