Another Maui shark attack; man survives bite at Kanaha

KANAHA – A man managed to make his way to shore after being bitten on his right leg by a shark while he was kitesurfing Thursday afternoon about 300 yards off Kaa Point at Kanaha Beach Park, officials said.

Lifeguards reported that the man was “conscious and coherent” when he was taken by medics to Maui Memorial Medical Center, said Maui County spokesman Rod Antone.

“They said he was in pretty good shape,” Antone said.

The man, a foreign national in his early 40s, was bitten in an area from his calf to his ankle, he said.

“He made it to shore on his own,” Antone said.

Later, as lifeguards were telling people to get out of the water, they spotted a 12- to 15-foot tiger shark, he said.

Shark warning signs were posted. The beach, also known as Kite Beach, was closed from Papa Ula Point off Stable Road in Spreckelsville to Pier 1 at Kahului Harbor – a mile in both directions from the location of the attack, according to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. An assessment was to be done this morning, with the beach to reopen at noon if there are no additional shark sightings.

The report of the shark attack came in at 3:19 p.m., said Fire Services Chief Lee Mainaga. A Kahului hazardous materials crew responded to find ocean safety officers and police already on scene. A lifeguard was applying a dressing to the man’s wound on his right calf and was dressing some small lacerations on the man’s heel, Mainaga said.

“The patient was alert and reported that he got himself to shore by kiteboarding from quite a distance out,” Mainaga said.

The man was reported to be in stable condition, he said.

Lifeguards and state DLNR officers responded to the scene, along with police and firefighters.

According to DLNR, a witness saw the injured kiteboarder in the water holding on to his board. The kiteboarder arrived on the beach calling for help and saying he had been bitten by a shark.

The witness helped the victim out of the water. According to the witness, the victim said he was 300 yards offshore and had fallen into the water, when he was bitten while hanging on to his board.

Kihei resident Tom Briggs, a retired Sacramento, Calif., firefighter and shark enthusiast, said that he ran to see if he could help but other kiteboarders and a lifeguard were already with the injured man and had used a leash as a tourniquet around the man’s leg.

Briggs said he was told that the man, a tourist from France, had been kiteboarding in an area at the surfbreak known as Bone Yard when he fell off his board and was bitten. The man used a body dragging technique to maneuver himself over the rocks and onto shore, Briggs said.

“He said, ‘I got bit, I got bit,’ ” Briggs said, before others helped the injured man onto the beach.

The shark had bitten the man’s leg to the bone, Briggs said. “You could see it was a big bloody bite,” he said. “There was blood on the sand.”

The man was alert and in good spirits, Briggs said. “He was making jokes.”

Kihei resident Nick Wilson, who also was at the beach, described the injured man as “super calm.”

“He’s a tough guy,” Wilson said.

The attack occurred in murky water with visibility of less than five feet, he said.

“This is normal here,” Wilson said.

In comparison, he said visibility is about 150 feet at Molokini, where he leads snorkel tours as a captain of Blue Water Rafting.

“Every attack on Maui has happened in poor visibility,” Wilson said.

About 60 kiteboarders, an average crowd, were in the water when the man was bitten, said Wailuku resident Nathan Lee. It was the first good day of wind in 30 days, occurring at the beginning of the swell season, he said. About a half-hour after the shark attack, more than a dozen kiteboarders were still in the water.

Lee said that the shark attack Thursday occurred slightly upwind from where a shark attacked an unmanned board about a quarter-mile offshore at Kaa Point on Aug. 13.

In another attack, 55-year-old David Peterson of Pukalani was injured when his stand-up paddle board was bitten by a shark at the beach Oct. 18, 2012.

The website Hawaii Sharks, sponsored by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, has logged five previous Maui shark attacks this year, including one last week in Ka’ehu Bay, Waiehu, where a man was injured but survived the attack. The attacks include confirmed bites of people or boards.

* City Editor Brian Perry contributed to this report. Lila Fujimoto can be reached at