The 57-year-old man missing since a shark attack on a popular Perth beach has been remembered as a devoted dad who was full of life.
Paul Millachip was in the water at his regular swimming spot at Port Beach in North Fremantle on Saturday when he was attacked by at least one shark.
WA Police Acting Inspector Troy Douglas said on Sunday morning officers were unable to confirm how many sharks were involved but it was “obviously at least one”.
Premier Mark McGowan said later in the day it was apparent authorities were resigned to the fact the attack had been fatal.
The search, which was suspended at 4pm AWST on Sunday, has so far turned up nothing but a pair of goggles.
“The events at Port Beach yesterday were horrific and very, very sad,” McGowan told reporters.
“A family is now grieving, a man has lost his life. It’s a terribly sad situation.”
While searchers have been hoping to recover Millachip’s body, heartbroken members of the local community have been gathering to pay tribute to the lovable Melville local.
None more than his wife.
“Rest in peace Paul,” she said while holding back tears at a media conference on Sunday afternoon.
“He died doing what he enjoyed doing the most, which was exercising.”
‘He died doing what he enjoyed doing the most, which was exercising.’
She praised authorities “for being extremely thorough and we’re really grateful for that” while also the witnesses who “helped piece together what’s happened”.
Millachip was described as a funny, caring and an “incredible guy” by those who spoke to The West Australian.
He was loved for telling jokes that “would stick and make everybody laugh” and “never wanted credit” for anything he did.
But above all, he was known for being a proud father to two children.
“He was a really good man who was always happy and full of life,” a friend of the man, who asked to not be named, told The West.
“(He was) so active and just a really good person.
“(He was) very smart, very kind and always did the right thing and I admired him and respected him very, very much.
“He’d always leave work on time to go and help his kids with their homework. He loved those kids so much, he was such a good man.”
‘He loved those kids so much, he was such a good man.’
Emergency services had resumed looking for Millachip at first light on Sunday after teenagers on a boat saw what they believed was a shark attack just metres away from the dinghy they were in.
“They vividly saw what was going on in the water … a person being attacked by a shark,” WA Police Senior Sergeant Troy Douglas said on Saturday.
“And they have alerted Emergency Services straight away.
“They have been really, really helpful.”
It’s also believed that the teens got everyone else out of the water during a clearly distressing situation.
“I think it’s fantastic (their efforts to raise the alarm),” Douglas added.
“It was probably something that you don’t want to see. They’ve reacted really well … alerted emergency services … and then provided police with statements which is really helpful.
“It’s a great effort.”
Millachip’s wife on Sunday reserved a special message for the four teenagers.
“It must’ve been an absolutely terrifying experience for them,” she told reporters.
“My heart goes out to them and I thank them for what they did.”
One witness said he could only watch on in horror as the Millachip was “dragged under”.
“I saw the man struggling in the water, and then there was a commotion with a tinny coming over surrounding the guy and that was the last they saw of him,” he told The West Australian.
“It was big, and it looked like a White.
“After the attack we saw it swing out the water with its fin.
“He was a big one.”
‘He was a big one.’
“And then we saw these young guns in a tinny racing up the beach raising the alarm.”
Another witness, Kaiden Boult, said he was surfing with his friends when he saw those in the dinghy “flying at us and scream(ing) at us to get out of the water because there’s been a shark attack”.
He added that he saw a “massive shark” just seconds after getting out of the water.
“We scurried out onto the rocks as soon as we got out to get a look from a high vantage point and as soon as we did we saw a massive shark out in the water,” Boult said.
“Next thing you know there’s cops and paramedics coming out of everywhere, and they cordoned it off and said it was a crime scene.”
The man who originally sounded the alarm continued to warn beachgoers of the shark attack.
“He was obviously very distraught, letting everyone know, ‘get out, there’s been a shark’,” another witness told The West Australian.
“He kept going down the beach.
“I’ve actually gone out to meet him at his boat to get more of an account of what’s just going on. He said ‘someone’s been done, they’ve taken most of him’.
“That kid deserves a shout out, he was an avid little boatie, got everyone out.”
McGowan said he wanted to thank everyone on scene who had helped get swimmers and board riders out of the water, as well as the surf lifesaving volunteers who participated in the search that followed.
Everyone involved was doing what they could to recover the Millachip’s body, he added.
Fisheries Minister Don Punch said police had deployed a number of vessels to the area.
“I want to extend thoughts and sympathy to a family that is going through a lot of grief at the moment,” Punch said.
“I would like to acknowledge the incredible work that police, Surf Life Saving, and Fisheries have done and also shire staff — who patrolled the beaches last night.
“But I would also like to particularly acknowledge the four young boys who helped clear the beach after the incident.
“It would have been a horrific thing to see, but they didn’t flinch and tried to protect swimmers in the water.
“They have been four very brave young people and we can proud of the actions they took.”
All beaches in the area were closed and will remain so at least until Monday.
– with AAP