Maine authorities have identified the 63-year-old woman killed in a shark attack Monday while swimming with her daughter as a former New York City fashion executive — and the first confirmed human victim of a deadly shark attack in state history.
Julie Dimperio Holowach was about 20 yards offshore near Bailey Island Monday afternoon when a great white shark attacked, the Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) said. Nearby kayakers who witnessed the incident carried her to shore – where emergency responders pronounced her dead. Her daughter escaped without any physical injuries.
Kipling President Julie Dimperio attends Kipling’s 25th Anniversary celebration at Helen Mills Event Space on March 7, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Dario Cantatore/Getty Images)
Authorities on Tuesday confirmed that a great white shark was responsible for the incident. They said shark attacks off the coast of Maine are extremely rare.
"It is the only confirmed fatality in Maine waters from a shark attack," DMR Commissioner Patrick Keliher said in a statement Tuesday.
The only other confirmed shark attack in the state happened 10 years ago in Eastport and involved a porbeagle, not a great white.
The attack unfolded off Bailey Island, Harpswell, Maine. (iStock, File)
Holowach used her maiden name professionally, according to women’s fashion publication WWD.
She had retired in 2016 after a career with VF Corp, where she was president of special markets for Liz Claiborne and later president of Kipling North American, according to WWD.
“She was a lovely, caring, dedicated, loyal, smart innovative fashion executive,” Karen Murray, a former colleague, told the outlet.
Keliher said that while such attacks don’t happen often, people should still take precautions.
One warning sign includes large schools of fish or seals – and people should be careful when swimming or paddling near them.
“Seals feed on fish, and sharks feed on seals," Keliher said. "We urge swimmers and others recreating in or on the water in the Casco Bay region, and in particular near Bailey Island to be aware of their surroundings and to avoid schools of fish or seals, which attract sharks."
In particular – people should avoid areas groups of seals have congregated out of the water – there could be predators waiting for them to jump back in.
Great white sharks on the Atlantic coast spend their time mostly in coastal and offshore waters along the continental shelf and around islands between Newfoundland and Florida, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. They can grow to as large as 21 feet.
Porbeagle sharks grow to about 12 feet and inhabit mostly waters in along the Northeast coast, from Massachusetts to Newfoundland, but can seasonally migrate down as far south as New Jersey.