Posted on: Tuesday, October 20, 2009Shark attacks Hawaii surfer
'There was blood everywhere I knew it was bad,' victim says after getting 100 stitches
By Christie Wilson
Advertiser Staff writer
KIHEI, Maui — Maui shark-bite victim Scott Henrich wants to apologize.
"Tell all the surfers that I'm sorry they couldn't go out today because they closed the beaches," said Henrich, 54, recovering at his Kíhei home yesterday after receiving 100 stitches in his right leg, where he was wounded by a 6- to 8-foot shark.
It was a 3-foot south swell, unusual for this time of year, that drew Henrich before dawn yesterday to a surf spot known as Kalama Bowls, a site normally mobbed by local surfers and surfing schools that cater to tourists. He had just paddled out about 300 yards around 6 a.m. and sat up on his board when the shark suddenly emerged from the water and clamped onto the surfer's leg. Henrich said he punched the animal's snout twice and it released its grip.
"I thought, 'I gotta get him off my leg,' so I pounded him. I was just hoping he wasn't going to chomp all the way through," he said.
As part of normal protocol after a shark attack, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources closed beaches along the South Maui coast from Lípoa Street to Kamaole Beach Park I. DLNR aquatic specialist Russell Sparks said state and county personnel will scan the waters this morning to check for sharks before making a determination to reopen the beaches.
Sparks said there wasn't enough evidence to determine what species of shark bit Henrich, although tiger sharks are suspected in most attacks in Hawaii.3rd attack of year
Yesterday's incident was the third shark-bite case in Hawaii this year. A tiger shark is suspected of breaking off the nose of a surfboard in an Aug. 6 incident off Kawa, Kau, on the Big Island. On March 16, an open-ocean swimmer was bitten by a cookie-cutter shark 10 miles northwest of Upolu Point on the Big Island.
Henrich, an agent with Coldwell Banker Island Properties and PGAteaching pro at Elleair Maui Golf Club, described the predator who grabbed his leg as having a 2-foot-wide head "with a white nose, gray top and very nice, big, white teeth."
Henrich said he knew it was "a little dangerous" going out to Kalama Bowls so early, "but that wasn't going to stop me from that surf."
He said there was only one other person out with him, a man on a surf ski, a long, narrow kayak-like craft. Henrich was straddling his board, waiting to catch his first wave, when the shark hit.
"Its head came up and he was on me. I never saw it coming," he said.
The shark's tail flailed back and forth before Henrich punched the animal and it eased back into the darkness, leaving deep gashes and scrapes from mid-thigh down to his ankle. At that point, Henrich said, all he could think about was survival.
"There was blood everywhere. I looked at the top gash and saw white meat and I knew it was bad. I was worried there might be other sharks around, and I knew I had to get it up and get out of the water quickly," he said.
The man on the surf ski had witnessed the attack and began towing Henrich to shore as the injured surfer rested on his belly, extending his right calf in the air. Henrich said he decided to speed up his rescue by catching a wave all the way to shore.
Since it was early in the morning, the gate toKalama Park was still locked and Henrich had parked his car about 350 yards away at the Kihei Town Center across South Kíhei Road. He said he managed to hobble to the shopping center, "screaming the whole way" whenever he put pressure on his mangled right leg. After flagging down a motorist to call 911, Henrich sat and waited for an ambulance while several bystanders offered their T-shirts to help stem the blood flow.
"Iknew I had to do two things: Make it to the car and get 911, and get ahold of my wife," he said.24-inch bite radius
The surfer was taken to Maui Memorial Medical Center in Wailuku, where he was stitched up and released. He said doctors estimated the bite radius of the shark at 24 inches.
Henrich said he had seen sharks in the ocean before in Lahaina and at Haleiwa on Oahu, and on one occasion years ago one of the animals brushed against him while he was surfing at Pakala's on Kauai. Despite the close encounters, Henrich said, he didn't give much thought to the threat of a shark attack.
"You are out in the food chain, and I was the first one out there, and it was just my turn," he said.
Reflecting further on the incident, Henrich said: "I just reacted. I'm lucky I can still walk."
When asked if he planned to go surfing again, he answered without hesitation: "Of course."
Henrich, who also is an avid tennis player, marathon runner and triathlete, seemed more concerned about the damage done to his surfboard, an 8-foot, 6-inch custom board by Bill Hamilton of Kauai. The board bears bite marks where Henrich's leg dangled in the ocean, and the right leg of his surf shorts was ripped in the attack.
"It was a beautiful piece of work," he said of his board.
In the last 10 years, there have been an average of four shark-bite cases annually in Hawaii. The last fatal attack occurred April 7, 2004, when a surfer died off Kahana, Maui.
DLNR warns that the risk of shark attack is greater around dawn and dusk and at night, although sharks are ever-present in nearshore waters and people have been bitten at all times of the day. Another risk factor is swimming or surfing in murky waters with low underwater visibility, which gives sharks a predatory advantage.'a dangerous time'
"That's something we would discourage people from doing. It's a dangerous time because all the sharks and predatory fish are more actively feeding in the morning and evening," Sparks said. "And (Kalama Bowls) is right on the reef's edge where the waves are breaking and the water is stirred up."
Safety in numbers is another piece of advice offered to those enjoying the ocean.
"They were the only two out there, so you have some fairly substantial risk factors,"Sparks said. "But surf-ers will keep going out for 'dawn patrol.' "
Records of shark attacks in Hawaii show a greater incidence during the months of October and November, although Sparks said it's not clear why.
The shark that attacked Scott Henrich before dawn yesterday left deep gashes and scrapes from mid-thigh down to his ankle.
Shark-attack victim Scott Henrich's wife, Lucia, points to bite marks on her husband's surfboard and shorts.
SOURCE:http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com/artic ... aii+surfer