Maui man lucky to be alive after shark bites his inflatable board 200 yards offshore
by: Manolo Morales
Posted: Dec 3, 2019 / 12:22 PM HST / Updated: Dec 3, 2019 / 09:16 PM HST
Two hundred yards back to shore, with an aggressive tiger shark in pursuit, coming back for more.
A very close call for a stand up paddle boarder off South Maui Tuesday morning after a shark bit the back of his inflatable board.
Someone helped him back to shore, with the shark right behind them.
Because the paddle board was punctured it was losing air fast. So there wasn’t much time to get back to safety.
“Next thing I know, bam! My board gets bit, I fall off, all I’m thinking is get on the board, lie flat, don’t stick any arms out in the water. As soon as I get back, on I get on quick,” said shark attack victim Larry Oberto.
He says he had seen fish jumping out of the water before the attack happened, so he knew that there might be a shark around. He had just decided to head back in when the shark bit into his inflatable paddle board. Fortunately, there was another paddle boarder nearby who came to help.
“I’m thinking it’s 200 plus yards to shore. If I don’t get a ride it’s gonna be me and the shark swimming. So he comes over and gets my paddle and I hang on the back of his board with my flat board giving me protection and buoyancy,” said Oberto.
While he wasn’t hurt, the ordeal wasn’t over. He says the shark, about 10-12 feet long, then started following them as they raced back to shore. During that time, Oberto was putting more weight on the other man’s board because the inflatable one was losing buoyancy.
“He sees the shark kind of lurking, I’m laying flat on the board just trying to get back so I’m just thinking mission, shore!” said Oberto.
He’s 57 years old and recently retired racing cars and speed boats. He’s been fortunate throughout his career and grateful that his luck hasn’t run out.
“I believe in dumb luck and circumstance. Like I said, racing cars and boats, I’ve had things happen to me that I’ve walked away from and watched other people go through similar incidents and not walk away,” he said.
Warning signs are posted from Cove Park to Waipuilani Park. Officials will inspect the area tomorrow to determine if it’s safe to go in the water.
Oberto says he will go stand up paddling again but not with an inflatable board, and not by himself.
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