A 35-year-old scuba diver who was killed by what’s believed to be a great white shark in Sydney on Wednesday was set to marry “the girl of his dreams”.
Simon Nellist, from the UK, “fell in love” with Australia and his fiancee Jessie Ho after going travelling following his service in the airforce, an anonymous close friend of the avid swimmer has revealed to The Sun.
"Him and Jessie were due to get married last year but that got put off because of Covid,” they said.
"It’s just horrendous. We spent most of yesterday just hoping and praying it wasn’t him. It’s still incredibly raw."
The friend described Mr Nellist as one of the “nicest, kindest” humans, calling his tragic death “a huge loss”.
They said the 35-year-old had not seen his family or friends in the UK for years because of Covid restrictions.
Mr Nellist “really knew the water” and numerous reports say he had made posts on Facebook calling for a ban on shark nets.
"He was massively into wildlife and knew exactly what he was doing. He wasn’t daft. It’s just a freak accident,” his friend told The Sun.
The friend said Mr Nellist fell in love with Australia after finishing in the RAF about six years ago.
"Then he fell in love with Jessie.”
Mr Nellist was training for the Malabar ocean swim this weekend — which has since been cancelled — when he was attacked in Little Bay around 4:30pm.
Distressing footage circulating online, which Yahoo News Australia has decided not to publish, showed the moment witnesses watched as the shark, estimated to be about 4.5 metres long, launched out of the water.
Just over an hour later police confirmed human remains had washed up on the shore.
NSW Ambulance Inspector Lucky Phrachanh described the injuries sustained by Mr Nellist as "catastrophic".
It was the first fatal shark attack in Sydney in almost 60 years. The last fatal shark attack in Sydney was in 1963.
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