Two years on: Shark attack shock still lingers
THE tragic death of Japanese expat Tadashi Nakahara two years ago yesterday sent shockwaves of grief and trauma through the Ballina community.
On the morning of February 9, 2015, the popular surfer and staff member at the Ballina Ramada Hotel succumbed to the first fatal shark attack in Ballina Shire since 2008.
The incident marked the start of a dark year for North Coast ocean lovers during which the region saw an unprecedented spike in shark attacks.
Ballina mayor David Wright, speaking yesterday about Tadashi's death, said it "changed the psyche" of Ballina and had left a permanent impact on those who witnessed the attack.
"There are some that are battling still, two years later, to go back into the surf," he said.
But Cr Wright said the experience also brought the community together to support each other through the tragedy.
He remembers being "blown away" by the number of people who attended the memorial service on Shelly Beach to honour Tadashi's life a few days after he died.
Cr Wright also said there were some positives which followed the shocking event.
"I don't think we've ever had all our (emergency) services working so closely together, I'm very proud... (also) the helicopters we couldn't get after Tadashi and after Mat (Lee's) attack are now common place."
Le-Ba Boardriders president Don Munro said Tadashi's death still resonated.
"It's still fresh in people's minds. He (Tadashi) was someone who was well- liked and loved," Mr Munro said.
"It was very tragic the way he was taken by the shark so violently."
But he said there was "a lot more confidence in the community" about going into the ocean now than in the year following Tadashi's death, which he attributed to the introduction of nets.