The identity of a Canberra mother who died in waters off Western Australia’s Coral Bay on Wednesday has been confirmed as author and blogger Kathreen Ricketson.
A search for Ms Ricketson’s partner, 48-year-old Robert Shugg, is expected to resume on Friday, after reports the couple’s two children watched on as attempts to revive her on Elles Beach were unsuccessful.
Ms Ricketson, 41, was writing a book about the family’s year-long travels around Australia and had used social media to promote her blog just hours before her death.
The couple’s children, a 13-year-old girl and a 10-year-old boy, were with friends on the beach when an emergency beacon was used to alert authorities of the unfolding tragedy.
The call for help came after both parents were found face down in the water, with the group initially believing Ms Ricketson and Mr Shugg had been snorkelling.
Attempts to revive Ms Ricketson were unsuccessful and members of the group were unable to reach Mr Shugg.
The tragedy took place around five kilometres from Warroora Station, in remote waters near Ningaloo Reef, 1200 kilometres north of Perth.
WA Police Inspector Dominic Wood told journalists the deaths were “horrific”.
Relatives of the family have flown to Perth to be with the children while the search continues for Mr Shugg.
Ms Ricketson’s online biography said she began blogging in 2004, with her latest project to document the family’s travels with a camping trailer in a book for Random House.
“The book is not just any old travel book,” she wrote in a recent online post. “It will be part on the road memoir, part family camping adventure how-to, but mostly it will be a whole bunch of fun projects that can be done in a day or a weekend by those who want to get away from it all and reconnect with their families.”
The family left their Canberra home more than four months ago, with Ms Ricketson regularly sharing photos of their travels with her online audience of more than 5000 Twitter followers. In one entry, Ms Ricketson said the couple were home-schooling their children and described their visit to the Ningaloo area as a “dream come true”.
WA Water Police Senior Constable Barney Hutchison told local journalists hopes of finding Mr Shugg were fading.