Family of missing teacher feared dead in shark attack mourn ‘tragic loss’ – as the search continues for his remains
- Popular school teacher feared dead
- Simon Baccanello, 46, attacked by shark
- Heartbroken family release statement
The family of beloved school teacher feared dead in a shark attack have broken their silence.
Simon Baccanello, 46, went missing on Saturday morning following reports he had been attacked by a shark while surfing at Walkers Rock on the west coast of South Australia‘s Eyre Peninsula.
The search resumed for the local teacher, who began working at Elliston Area School in January, at first light this morning.
Elliston Area School teacher Simon Baccanello is feared dead after a shark attack
The beloved teacher was surfing near Elliston on South Australia’s west coast (pictured)
In a statement, Mr Baccanello’s family said they were ‘grateful for the support of the Elliston community, family and friends’.
‘The family are grateful for the support of the Elliston community, family and friends, and would appreciate their privacy as they process this tragic loss,’ Mr Baccanello’s family said.
Mr Baccanello had been surfing at the popular local beach around 10am on Saturday morning when he was attacked.
A teenage boy, 13, was among those in the water who witnessed the horrifying attack.
Jaiden Millar, 22, was in the water when the teacher was attacked.
‘It was such a confronting incident. There were 15 or 20 people out there today. ‘It could have been anyone,’ Mr Millar told The Advertiser.
He saw the teacher’s surfboard ‘tombstoning’ around 500m off shore, which is when the surfer is pulled down deep and their board stands upright in the water like a headstone.
‘He was gone. (We) saw the shark just thrashing around out the back. The shark’s obviously let go and come back and got him for a third time,’ Mr Millar said.
Mr Baccanello taught maths, science and health and physical education and had quickly become a much-loved and well respected member of community since moving to Elliston.
‘He’s just been a good teacher for the kids,’ a shocked local told the paper.
‘In a small town like this everyone gets affected by it.’
Another local who laid flowers at the scene on Sunday morning said ‘he was doing what he loved’.
Heartbroken friends have taken to to social media to pay tribute to Mr Baccanello.
‘RIP my brother, taken way too soon and one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met,’ one mate posted.
One woman added: ‘He was one of a kind and a heart of gold.’
South Australia Police confirmed the search was still underway, with members of the community and the SES involved.
Superintendent Paul Bahr, Officer in Charge of Eyre and Western Local Service Area thanked the local community for their help during the search.
‘It’s not easy when it’s a local involved but we commend their strength and their want to assist,’ Superintendent Bahr said.
‘We will continue to search with the assistance of local emergency services and other resources.’
Elliston is located about 650km from Adelaide, and is a spot loved by tourists for its pristine beaches.