Yesterday, we reported that Julie Dimperio Holowach, a 63 year-old retired fashion executive from New York City, was killed by a shark in Maine on Monday. Now, a witness who saw the shark attack take place has come forward to reveal what Holowach’s final moments were like.
Holowach was swimming with her adult daughter about 20 yards off the coast of Bailey Island when the shark suddenly attacked her. Holowach was wearing a wetsuit at the time, and it is believed the shark may have mistook her for a seal because of it.
Tom Whyte, a neighbor who knew Holowach, saw the attack happen from his office, which overlooks the water. He grabbed his binoculars when he saw two swimmers that he didn’t recognize, and it was then that he realized it was the retired fashion executive and her daughter.
“You could hear her giggling and laughing,” Whyte told the Portland Press Herald. “All of a sudden Julie just started screaming for help.”
As Holowach’s daughter began swimming toward her, Whyte recalled, “And all of a sudden Julie went under. It looked like she was pulled under.”
Her daughter immediately began swimming to shore screaming for help, and she caught the attention of Steve Arnold, an Alabama man vacationing on the island.
“I saw her lift a little bit out of the water … 12 to 18 inches maybe,” he said.
Some kayakers were able to get Holowach to shore, but she was dead by the time paramedics got to the scene. Shark attacks are very rare in Maine, with officials saying that this is only the second recorded attack ever in the state, and the first fatality.
Karen Murray, a longtime friend of Holowach’s, told the New York Post that she split her time between her homes in Maine and New York City.
“She loved life,” she said. “Julie ran marathons. She actually did triathlons. She was in great, great physical shape.”
“She made her money, and she wanted to spend time with her family,” added Murray, who worked with Holowach during her days in the fashion world.
“She went to her homes and spent time with her kids and her husband. She had a wonderful life. She had everything she needed financially, and she had her health and her family,” she continued. “She’s got a love of life. She’s one of the happiest, most energetic people with the greatest disposition and zest.”
“She was out frolicking with her daughter,” Murray concluded. “Her daughter thankfully is fine, but I can’t imagine she’ll ever be the same. I don’t how you live after that.”
Westbrook Fire Chief Andrew Turcotte of Maine spoke out to ask for privacy for Holowach’s family during this difficult time.
“While they are very grateful for the outpouring of support that they have received, they’re asking for privacy during this very difficult period of time,” he said. “I ask that you please respect their request as they mourn the loss of a spouse, mother, daughter, granddaughter, sister, cousin and friend to many.”