One of those witnesses, Hugh Riley, told Nine News it had been a “very harrowing experience” and Mr Thompson had suffered “some pretty horrendous injuries”.
He said they did everything possible, pulling him up the beach and putting a tourniquet on his arm.
Mrs Thompson thanked those who helped her husband for their bravery and efforts to save him.
“Thank you to the first responders, paramedics and lastly the Westpac rescue helicopter, thank you,” she said.
“You were Tim’s favourite charity. He would always donate whatever cash we had and say, ‘I hope I never need you.’ Well, turns out he did need you, and you were there. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to express how grateful I am that you all tried your best for him.
“I hope Timmy is up there doing what he loves, surfing the best barrels and watching over us.”
She said her husband, with whom she shared a life full of adventures, had been kind, caring and loved by everyone, and never had a bad word to say about anybody.
“The last thing Tim said to me before he walked out that door for the last time was ‘I love you two.’ He kissed me and my tummy goodbye.
“I am incredibly blessed that we met and our love story gets to live on with our baby.”
Shelly Beach is located at the northern end of the Look At Me Now Headland at Emerald Beach, which is about 15 minutes north of Coffs Harbour and is popular with surfers.
Drumlines were deployed off the beach following the fatality.
Coffs Harbour Lifeguards said on Monday afternoon that Emerald Beach, Serenity Bay and Shelly Beach had reopened with “no evidence of shark activity”.
“Condolences to friends and family of the victim,” the service said on Facebook.
With Nigel Gladstone
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