HARPSWELL, Maine - A New York City woman was killed in a shark attack off the coast of Maine, a rare occurrence that has only been recorded once before in the state.
Maine Marine Patrol said a witness saw the woman, identified as 63-year-old Julie Dimperio Holowach, swimming off the shore of Bailey Island on Monday when she was injured in a shark attack.
Two kayakers helped her get to shore, and an ambulance provided further assistance, but she was pronounced dead at the scene, Marine Patrol said.
The attack happened about 30 to 40 feet (9 to 12 meters) offshore, and the rescuers were a man and woman in a rented tandem kayak, said Jeff Cooper, co-owner H2Outfitters on the island, which offers instruction, rentals and sales of kayaks.
The kayakers were on the shore when one of them saw something breach, and realized something was wrong, Cooper said.
“They happened to be right there at the scene. They were courageous enough to jump in and retrieve the victim,” Cooper said.
Holowach and her family own property in the area and are well known in the community, which is shaken by her death, said Rob Beal, major of the Maine Marine Patrol.
There has only been one recorded unprovoked shark attack in Maine, New England shark expert James Sulikowski told the Portland Press Herald. Sulikowski, who researches for Arizona State University, said it's possible the shark mistook the person for food.
The state Marine Patrol is urging swimmers and boaters to use caution near Bailey Island and to avoid swimming near schooling fish or seals.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.