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Khai Cowley’s family speaks out after fatal shark attack


The heartbroken family of the teenage surfer who was fatally mauled by a shark in front of his father have said they are totally devastated by the sudden loss – but are buoyed by support from the local community.

“So hurt… I’ve never seen people so hurt, honestly… it’s something to see,” Khai Cowley’s grandfather Peter Barley told Nine News.

“I keep thinking that at any moment he’s going to keep walking through the front door,” Barley added.

Khai, 15, died on Thursday when his leg was bitten by a suspected great white shark off Ethel Beach on South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula.

Within 48 hours, the shoreline where the horror attack took place was lined with floral tributes and the flag outside the nearby surf shop was flying at half-mast, Nine News noted.

“We are a very close-knit, strong family and we will get through this,” Peter Barley said.

Khai Cowley (left) was mauled by a shark on Thursday. Document to distribute to the family
Cowley’s family is receiving an outpouring of support from the community. Document to distribute to the family

Khai was remembered by those close to him as a talented surfer who was good on the waves.

He frequently surfed with his uncle, Adam Barley, Peter said.

“The connection between Adam and Khai – witnessing it sometimes made me cry,” the grandfather recalls.

Peter Barley said his family was “suffering” over the teenager’s death. 9News
A tribute to teenager Khai Cowley who was killed on Ethel Beach. Document to distribute to the family

“When we were in the water, it was like magic. The three of us together, it was magical,” he added.

Despite their grief, the teenager’s family feels supported by the seaside community,

“Because of the love that happens to him, it cancels out the tragedy,” Peter Barley told Nine News.

Khai Cowley was an accomplished surfer. Document to distribute to the family

“(Khai) really made the most of life, he didn’t waste a second,” his uncle Adam Barley told The Advertiser.

“He was very brave, he surfed bigger waves than his dad Tim,” Adam said.

Khai’s father was with him on the water on Thursday when the attack took place.

The beach where the attack took place is now marked with floral tributes. 9News
Cowley was surfing at Ethel Beach with his father at the time of the attack. 9News

“I started to go down to the beach and I could see the father on the rocks screaming and his son swimming towards him,” witness Tim Philip initially told 7News of the scene.

Philip said the shark was probably about 13 feet long.

Khai’s aunt, Lauryn Barley, started a GoFundMe to help the family cover funeral costs.

Khai Cowley surfed bigger waves than his father, his uncle said. Khai Cowley / Facebook
The family spent a lot of time together on the water, according to Cowley’s grandfather. Document to distribute to the family

As of Saturday, the page had raised more than $51,000, 10 times its initial goal of $5,100.

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