“It is still unknown at this stage — investigations are only in their early stages — but there was no visible evidence of a shark attack,” Sunshine Coast water police Senior Constable Mark Muddiman explained to a reporter for ABC News Australia regarding the cause of death for 35-year-old Luke Howard.
The Queensland, Australia resident – who friends and family described as a “fit person who regularly swam from Coolum to Mooloolaba and competed in triathlons,” had gone PWC fishing with friends when Howard noticed his runabout was taking on water. According to reports, Howard removed his lifevest before jumping into the water to investigate the cause of the leakage.
Reports conflict whether Howard failed to reboard due to injury or physical inability, or had intentionally chose to hang on to the watercraft from behind; either way, the person piloting the PWC didn’t realize when Howard had fallen off while it was in motion.
Initial reports had speculated that Howard’s failure and disappearance from the back of the PWC was due to a sudden shark attack. With the discovery of his body, that claim has since been debunked. Rather, it’s believed that he was simply accidentally left behind in the open ocean without a lifevest, and succumbed to either exposure or exhaustion.
Needless to say, Luke Howard’s unfortunate death could have been completely avoided if the proper safety precautions were taken. Never hang off of the back of a watercraft while it is in motion – ever. Always wear your lifevest, especially in open ocean conditions.