A 16-year-old Kihei boy was bitten in two passes by a shark while he was body boarding just outside the Kahului Harbor breakwater Sunday afternoon, police said.
Two local men, both professional surfers, who were inside when the attack happened managed to get the victim close to shore and bind his bleeding left leg with a tourniquet made from a board leash.
The boy suffered lacerations to his lower left leg, calf, foot and ankle area, said police Lt. Wayne Ibarra on Sunday.
Professional photographer Eps Sargent of Haiku was taking pictures of professional surfers outside Kahului Harbor on Sunday afternoon when a shark attacked a 16-year-old Kihei boy. Police and rescue workers bandaged the badly torn leg before rushing the boy to the hospital. Two surfers, Kai Barger and Tanner Hendrickson, pulled him to shore against difficult surging waves.
Eps Sargent photo
The boy was transported to Maui Memorial Medical Center and treated by emergency room doctors, who said the injuries were consistent with a shark bite, Ibarra said. There was no other information about the boy's condition, and his name was not revealed.
However, Haiku resident Kai Barger, 21, related what happened when he and his friend Tanner Hendrickson heard screams. Professional photographer Eps Sargent, who was present to take pictures of the pro surfers, also watched the rescue and took photographs. He also described the wounds on the victim.
Barger said the boogie boarders were about 20 yards away when he heard screams. "I thought they had seen a shark," he said Sunday night. He did not at first realize that there had been an attack.
He said the boy probably owed his foot to the fact that boogie boarders wear fins. The shark bit off much of the boy's left heel and took the fin, Barger said. Without the fin, the fish might have taken the foot.
The shark came back for a second pass and, Barger said, ripped the boy's leg from knee to ankle.
He and Hendrickson had some difficulty pulling the boy back using their leashes, because "the waves were pounding."
The location, called Ledges, is gnarly most of the time anyway and was especially tough Sunday from the residue of a swell that had caused high surf warnings to go up Saturday.
Hendrickson and Barger couldn't maneuver the wounded boy over the rocks along the harbor breakwater themselves, because it was slippery and was being pounded, but they called on bystanders to call for help.
Working together the people at the scene got the boy ashore and Barger got his leash tight above the knee.
"I have never, ever seen a shark," although he has been surfing on Maui almost every day since he was 3 years old. But he said he had thought about what to do if something happened. "I think we knew how to deal with it," although putting knowledge into practice was frantic. He estimated it took about 15 minutes from the moment he and Hendrickson heard the screams and when emergency medical technicians arrived.
"It's a good thing they were only four or five minutes from the hospital," he said.
Ibarra said the boy was attacked at about 3:35 p.m. State Department of Land and Natural Resources officials and county ocean safety officers closed the ocean in a one-mile radius from where the incident occurred to assess the situation. As of 8 p.m Sunday, there was no indication when the area would be reopened to oceangoers.
All week, weather forecasters and state officials have been cautioning water users that heavy rains wash dead animals out of forests, which tends to attract sharks. The discolored water increases the chances of a shark-human encounter, they warned.
Barger said he and his friends would surf anyway, and he plans to be back, probably in about the same area, today with his board.
* Harry Eagar can be reached at heagar @mauinews.com. Melissa Tanji can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.