Shark Bites Off Body Boarder's Foot
Officials Shut Down Beaches In Kauai, Hawaii
POSTED: 8:29 pm EST March 25, 2002
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POIPU, Kauai, Hawaii -- A Hawaii teenager is recovering after a shark bit off his foot in an attack at a beach in Poipu, Kauai on Monday.
It happened just after 12 p.m., fire rescue crews said.
Witnesses identified the victim as Hoku Aki, 17 of Kauai.
Fire crews said Aki was body boarding for only about five minutes when the attack happened. He was 150 yards from shore at the time, police said.
Authorities said Aki was one of about five people who were in the water at the time.
"It was a big animal (that) hit him once and actually rolled over him, dragging him under," said John Naughton of the state Shark Task Force.
The victim's left foot was bitten off just below the ankle, officials said. Firefighters said Aki was able to swim to shore on his own.
"He lost a lot of blood in the water. He was going into shock, but he was still conscious at this time. He knew where he was. He knew his name," lifeguard Kalani Vierra said.
Witnesses said they saw Aki was pulled under twice. Rescuers said the victim was able to punch and kick himself free.
Jason Brown works at a nearby surf shop. He said he heard the commotion from the beach.
"A lady came in quite frantic, saying that there was a young man attacked by a shark. She thought at the time and he was 30 feet off the shore and he was surrounded by a big pool of blood," Brown said.
Beachgoers helped Aki out of the water and tended to him until paramedics arrived. Lifeguards and a vacationing nurse helped stop the bleeding, officials said.
Brown described what he saw when he reached the beach. "He (Aki) was lying there and you could tell by the shape of the towel around his leg that his foot wasn't there," Brown said.
He was taken to a local hospital where he was last reported in stable condition.
It's been raining on Kauai for about 24 hours and the ocean at Brennecke's is brown and murky. Previous attacks have happened under the same type of conditions, according to officials.
Aki's father said his son is beginning to remember what happened. "Certainly his spirirts are up it was quite an ordeal for him. But, he's recovering and he's doing quite well," Harmon Aki said.
Officials said they believe Aki was attacked by a tiger shark because of the severity of the injuries.
The last shark attack on Kauai happened in 1997. Teenager Michael Coots was body boarding on the west side of the island when he was attacked. He also lost a foot.
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