Visitor who lost arm to shark dies

A 20-year-old German visitor died Wednesday at Maui Memorial Medical Center a week after a shark bit off her right arm while she was snorkeling at Palauea Beach Park.

Jana Lutteropp had been on life support and in “very critical condition” at the hospital.

Hospital spokeswoman Carol Clark released a statement from Lutteropp’s mother and sister, Jutta Lutteropp and Julia Broeske.

It said: “Jana fought hard to stay alive. However, we are sad to say that she lost her fight today.

“Jana was a very beautiful, strong, young woman who was always laughing, and we will forever remember her that way.”

After Lutteropp was attacked about 50 yards offshore at Palauea in South Maui on Aug. 14, bystanders heard her scream and brought her to shore. They reported that her right arm had been bitten off near her shoulder.

California visitor Rick Moore, who had arrived at Palauea a few minutes before the shark attack, said he heard a “bloodcurdling scream” and saw the woman offshore in the middle of a circle of blood.

Moore’s friend, Nick Grisaffi, also of California, said the woman was “dipping in and out of consciousness” as she was brought to shore. Moore said she lost a massive amount of blood and started saying, “I’m gonna die.”

State Department of Land and Natural Resources officials were unable to speak to Lutteropp to determine the type and size of shark, and there were no witness reports to help identify the shark’s species, said Deborah Ward, DLNR spokeswoman, on Wednesday.

In an email, she said the state’s practice is to investigate and document shark incidents, including victims’ injuries and their medical condition.

In the statement released by Clark on Wednesday, Jutta Lutteropp and Broeske said they appreciated all the support from Maui’s community as well as the prayers and thoughts from around the world and in Germany.

“We especially want to thank the wonderful caregivers and everyone at Maui Memorial Medical Center,” they said.

The family requested privacy and asked that any donations be made to the Maui Memorial Medical Center Foundation in memory of Jana Lutteropp.

The attack on Lutteropp, follows a couple of recent shark incidents on Maui in the past several weeks:

* On Aug. 13, a shark bit into a kitesurfer’s drifting board off Ka’a Point near Kanaha Beach Park in Kahului. There were no injuries in that incident.

* On July 31, 56-year-old Evonne Cashman of California was snorkeling about 125 yards off Ulua Beach in Wailea in turbid water when she was attacked. She suffered puncture wounds to the right side of her torso and lacerations to her right hand and chin. She said the incident happened so fast she didn’t get to see what bit her.

Before Lutteropp’s death, the last fatal shark attack in Maui waters occurred in 2004 in Kahana. Willis McInnis, 57, who was surfing about 100 yards from shore died from a severe wound to his right leg involving his thigh and calf. He suffered severe blood loss. He had been surfing around 7:13 a.m. on April 7, 2004.

The state DLNR said McInnis’ injuries were consistent with a tiger shark bite.

On Tuesday, the DLNR announced plans for a two-year study of tiger shark movements around Maui, amid what officials called an unprecedented spike in overall shark attacks since the start of 2012.

A state official said Hawaii waters are safe if swimmers are cautious. The official said prevailing opinion is there are more sharks and more people in Hawaiian waters, creating more chances for bites.

The study will help determine if signs, closures or other measures are needed to minimize encounters between sharks and humans.

There have been eight attacks statewide this year and 10 in 2012. Hawaii usually sees only three to four attacks each year.

A woman died last month after being attacked while swimming in Brazil during her vacation.

Worldwide, there were seven deaths resulting from unprovoked shark attacks in 2012, including one in California, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida.