Wednesday » November 15 » 2006
B.C. man recounts terror of shark attack
CREDIT: The Associated Press
Kyle Gruen of Coquitlam, B.C., says he has been nicknamed "nibbles" by his friend following a shark attack off Hawaii.
HAWAII - As Kyle Gruen paused to admire a few fish during a workout swim off a Maui beach last Saturday, he thought for a moment ''this would be a good place for a shark to hang out.''
Seconds later, a large shark closed its jaws on Gruen's left thigh and hand.
''It hit me from the side and I felt it clamp down with a lot of force,'' said Gruen, who returned to the Maui Memorial Medical Center Tuesday to talk to reporters and meet one of the people who helped him to shore after the attack. ''From then on it was pretty much reflex. I was turning to get away and I looked at him. It seemed as big as I was and I've since heard it was anything from six to 12 feet in length. I'm sure he was as scared of me as I was of him.''
The shark left five big puncture wounds, including a large tear, in the 29-year-old Coquitlam man's thigh, from just above the knee to a few centimetres from the groin.
The shark also injured Gruen's left hand in the same bite, severing tendons and leaving his fingers flopping as he tried to swim for shore.
''I was pretty scared for my life at that point,'' he said. ''I was in shock, it didn't hurt at all but I was afraid I was going to bleed out.''
Gruen first saw how badly injured he was when he reached shallow water and pulled himself onto a rock ledge.
''I remember looking down at my leg and watching the little pools of water on the rock filling with blood. I could see the tendons in my hand.''
Maui resident Donald Cole was in the shallows when he heard Gruen calling for help and was the first to reach the injured Canadian.
''Kyle was yelling 'shark, shark,''' said Cole, who was at the hospital Tuesday. He waded and swam to where Gruen sat and knew immediately he was badly injured. ''His leg was mangled and there was blood all over the place.''
Cole was soon joined by a nearby kayaker and two other men. Together they carried Gruen out of the water and onto a lawn chair at Kihei's Kamaole Nalu Resort.
Paramedics arrived within minutes.
Gruen was discharged from hospital on Monday following a second round of surgery to close the wounds and repair the tendons in his hand, and in time to act as best man at his friends' wedding. ''I made it to the wedding, although I didn't last very long at the reception,'' said Gruen, who noted doctors have told him he can expect a full recovery although he'll have a well-defined scar on his leg from the bite.
Chris Corrigall, who with Kyle Gruen's twin brother Jeff and friend Erik Garrett, accompanied Kyle back to the hospital on Tuesday, joked that another wedding guest had warned Kyle not to steal the spotlight from the bride.
The men, all from the Lower Mainland, were among dozens of guests who flew from Vancouver for the wedding.
Jeff Gruen noted that Kyle's friends have since given him the nickname ''nibbles.''
''It's pretty much a perfect place and time to suffer an injury like this; I've got 80 of my closest friends nearby,'' said Kyle Gruen, who has been using a wheelchair since leaving the hospital.
Jeff Gruen also called his parents, Kay and Frank Gruen, in Coquitlam as he drove to the hospital on Saturday.
''That was hard to do,'' he said. ''I just told them what had happened and assured them right away that Kyle was going to be OK.''
Although he can joke about the attack now, Kyle Gruen said the event was terrifying.
''I think it will be pretty normal for me to have nightmares about it I already have,'' he said.
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