“When I was standing on the rocks, I saw young John Willis,” he said, “but the water was too murky for me and I climbed out after I had caught a few lobsters.
“I told him: There aren’t many fish around mate, only a few lobsters.
“John said: ‘Thanks’
“Then I told him: Don’t go in, there has been a shark around here for three days – a big fellow, about 12 feet.
“The lad just nodded.”
Minutes later – in just a few feet of water – the young boy, his face paralysed with fear, threw his arms up and yelled the blood-curdling words no beachgoer ever wants to hear
“Shark. Shark. Please help.”
In an instant, the tranquillity of Balmoral was shattered as hundreds ran to the screaming boys aid. Thrashing wildly in a sea of red, John Willis had been mauled by a bronze whaler shark, no more than 10 metres from the shore-line.
“It was a pitiful sight,” Audrey Cook would later tell reporters, “the water was full of blood and we could see the dorsal fin of the shark slashing through the water.”