04/07/2004 Willis McInnis (Hawaii) ***Fatal***

Shark Attack Survivors News Archive for Shark Attacks in 2004.

04/07/2004 Willis McInnis (Hawaii) ***Fatal***

Postby sharkbait » Sat Apr 16, 2005 3:10 am

Shark attack claims Hawaiian surfer

Surfer Willis McGinnis, 57, died April 7 from loss of blood after being attacked by a shark off Kahana, Maui, in the Hawaiian Islands.

A large north swell was arriving in Hawaii, and McGinnis was surfing "S-turns" near Pohaku Park in Kahana. Kahana is located about halfway between Kaanapali and Honolua Bay on the west coast of Maui.

Another surfer, Rodger Coombs, was paddling out shortly after 7 a.m. when he heard cries for help from McGinnis, who was roughly 200 yards offshore. When Coombs reached McGinnis, he could see his right leg had been severely bitten by a shark. Coombs got off his board and tried to push McGinnis to shore on his longboard.

Other bystanders rushed to help the duo when they reached the rocky shore, but McGinnis collapsed when he finally reached land. Despite CPR efforts by Coombs and the others, McGinnis stopped breathing a short time later.

Bryan Lamy, a retired police officer from Southern California, said he and others tried to apply pressure to stop McGinnis' bleeding, but their efforts were unsuccessful.

"His leg was severely lacerated," said Lamy. "There was a lot of blood in the water and the victim was very pale."

Maui police Capt. Charles Hirata confirmed that McGinnis' injuries were consistent with a shark attack.

"There was substantial arterial damage and a lot of blood loss," he said.

McGinnis had been an on-and-off visitor to the Hawaiian Islands for over 30 years, and had recently moved to Maui. He had started surfing just two years before and was stoked on his new-found sport.

McGinnis had been surfing in murky water with low visibility. The islands had been under siege from rainfall the previous 30 days, with year-to-date totals more than double the normal average, depositing large amounts of silt into the water. In addition, the late-season large north swell had churned the ocean water.

Randy Honebrink, a spokesman for the state's Shark Task Force, said attacks are "an extremely rare event and there's no pattern on how it happens" and suggested ocean users should avoid murky water.

There have been four confirmed fatal shark attacks in Hawaii since 1991.

A woman was killed on Nov. 26, 1991, while swimming 100 yards from shore at Olowalu, Maui.

On Feb. 19, 1992, Bryan Adona did not return after bodyboarding near Waimea Bay, Oahu. His board was found the next day with a large, bite-sized chunk missing.

Another bodyboarder was killed on Nov. 5, 1992, just 30 yards offshore while riding at Keeau Beach Park on Oahu.

A 29-year-old California woman had her arm bit off while kayaking in channel waters off the west coast of Maui on March 18, 1999.

Until McGinnis' death, the last shark mishap occurred Oct. 31, 2003, when 13-year-old surfer Bethany Hamilton received national attention after one of her arms was bitten off while surfing "Tunnels" on the northeast coast of Kauai.

Bethany has since returned to the water and is surfing again.

McGinnis and many other surfers throughout Hawaii were at the beach that day after TV newscasters forecasted the arrival of a huge north swell on the evening news. The swell arrived on schedule, and much of Oahu's famed North Shore was closed out and unrideable.

In a rare April occurrence, Waimea Bay broke with a dozen surfers enjoying sporadic sets in the 15- to 18-foot range. Makaha on the west side also broke with sets in the triple-overhead range.
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Postby sharkbait » Wed Sep 20, 2006 9:34 pm

Surfer dead after shark attack on Maui

By Mike Gordon
Advertiser Staff Writer

A Maui surfer died today after he was bitten by a shark, the first confirmed shark-attack fatality in almost 12 years.
The victim, Willis McInnis, was a 57-year-old Kahana resident who was surfing at a break called S-Turns, about 300 yards offshore from Pohaku Park, said Maui police Capt. Charles Hirata. The attack occurred about 7:08 a.m.

Witnesses said McInnis was bitten on the right leg. He had severe cuts from his upper right thigh to mid-calf, Hirata said.

The bite was nearly 14 inches long, Hirata said.

Other surfers in the area helped McInnis to shore, but he died on the beach as paramedics tried to save him.

The surfer had just missed catching a wave and had turned to paddle out for another one when he was attacked, witnesses told police.

Two friends were paddling out to the popular surf spot when they heard McInnis call for help, said his friend, Curtis Kaiwi, 45. McInnis was unconscious, however, when Kaiwi and others dragged him up the beach.

Kaiwi said McInnis was the only surfer out at the time.

The spot is not known for sharks, but this morning’s murky waters and 3- to 4-foot west swells are just the sort of conditions that prompt warnings from officials.

Jeremy Franks, director of guest activities at the nearby Noelani Condominium Resort, has surfed the area often without fear of being bitten. "It’s a local hangout," he said. "It isn’t known as a shark hang-out. It is the first time I think it has ever happened."

State officials closed the beach a mile north and south of the attack area until at least noon tomorrow, said Russell Sparks, an education specialist with the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

"We have lifeguards on jet skis and we have enforcement officers from DLNR out there on boats," he said. "We have people along the coastline taking a look."

It is not yet known what kind of shark attacked McInnis. Randy Honebrink, spokesman for the state Shark Task Force, said he suspected it was a tiger shark, given the fact that they have been responsible for numerous other bites throughout the state.

The last confirmed shark-attack fatality in the state was on Nov. 5, 1992, when bodyboarder Aaron Romento was bitten about 30 yards offshore of Kea'au Beach Park on O'ahu, Honebrink said. A shark estimated to be 10 to 12 feet long bit Romento on the right leg.

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Re: 04/07/2004 Willis McInnis (Hawaii) ***Fatal***

Postby sharkbait » Sat Feb 14, 2009 12:44 pm

KAHANA - A shark inflicted a massive wound to the upper right leg of a 57-year-old Kahana man around 7 a.m. Wednesday as he was paddling his surfboard to catch waves at the popular surf spot known as "S-Turns."

Man dies after shark attack

The Maui News
Thursday, April 08, 2004


KAHANA - A shark inflicted a massive wound to the upper right leg of a 57-year-old Kahana man around 7 a.m. Wednesday as he was paddling his surfboard to catch waves at the popular surf spot known as "S-Turns."

Despite efforts of fellow surfers and paramedics to save him, Willis McInnis died at the scene, becoming the first confirmed shark attack fatality in Hawaii in nearly 12 years.

State officials and Maui County lifeguards posted shark warning signs and closed a 2-mile stretch of beach from Honokowai Park to Little Makaha near Napili Bay. Lifeguards on personal watercraft patrolled the ocean Wednesday but didn't see any sharks, said Archie Kalepa, Maui County ocean safety supervisor.

He said lifeguards helped state conservation enforcement officers put up warning signs after the fatal attack.

Tina Cooper, 47, of Napili said she, McInnis and Rodger Coombs are usually the "early birds" at the surf spot.

"We surf together early in the morning," she said.

Cooper said McInnis went in the water first and had caught at least two waves as she and Coombs paddled out to join him.

"We were watching him," she said. "I caught one wave, got off a wave and turned around to paddle back out."

Cooper said she thought she heard McInnis making "joyful noises" as he would after riding a wave.

"That was common," she said. "He was a real happy guy."

Cooper said she quickly realized he was crying for help.

"Rodger and I paddled towards him," she said. "We just saw his bloody leg."

Coombs, a 60-year-old retiree from Lahaina, said he had been paddling out in a channel to waves that were waist-to-shoulder-high when he saw a friend he knew as "Will" was in distress.

"I heard him yelling, 'Help! Help me!' " said Coombs. He estimated he was about 100 yards away from the victim, who was lying on top of his 10-foot surfboard about 200 to 300 yards offshore in water 10 to 15 feet deep.

Coombs paddled over to him and asked, "Will, what's wrong?"

"He didn't answer me," he said.

But Coombs said he could see a "big chunk had been taken out of the right back thigh . . . just below the buttocks." He also could see McInnis was losing massive amounts of blood.

Police said McInnis suffered severe lacerations to his upper right thigh and midcalf. The wound measured 12 to 14 inches long.

Coombs said he didn't see the shark and didn't know its size or species. He said he got off his board and began pushing McInnis in to shore while Cooper paddled in to use her cell phone to call for help.

He said McInnis was approximately 6 feet tall and weighed about 175 pounds.

"He said, 'My leg is toast,' " Coombs recalled. But he said he kept trying to give the man encouragement as it took another 10 to 15 minutes to get him in to shore.

Coombs said he told McInnis: "We're going to make it. . . . Just stay with me. . . . We're almost there."

He said McInnis was conscious most of the way to shore, although he clearly was in, or going into, shock.

"My only thought was to get him in to shore and get him help," Coombs said.

He said the ordeal left him exhausted.

"I did what I think anybody would have done," he said. "My whole focus was to try to get him in to shore to get him help."

Bystanders and friends helped bring McInnis to shore and give him medical treatment.

One of McInnis' friends, Curtis Kaiwi, said he jumped into the water and got cut by rocks to help two surfers pull the victim to shore.

Kaiwi, 45, of Honokowai said it was hard to keep McInnis' body on the board and push him to shore.

He said McInnis' cut was "just meat. No blood."

"Blood was in the water around us," he said.

When the group brought McInnis to shore, a group of bystanders was waiting to help.

One was Jeffrey Woznicki, a fire captain vacationing from Milwaukee. He said McInnis was unconscious, "still breathing, but very pale."

Woznicki, 46, said he performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation, but it didn't seem to work.

"You got to have blood" pressure for CPR to work, he said. "You try anyway.

"There was a lot of circles of blood out there," he said.

Paramedics arrived shortly after McInnis had been taken to shore, Coombs said.

Coombs said he knew McInnis only as a fellow surfer.

"He was a nice guy to talk to, very friendly, very outgoing," he said.

Coombs said the shark attack, while tragic, won't deter him from continuing to surf.

"I'm not going surfing at S-Turns right away," he said, "but I'll go back and go surfing again. . . . It will be a few days before I go in the water again.

"Sharks live in the ocean," he said. "It's just really unfortunate that that happened. . . . I'm sorry I wasn't quick enough."

McInnis' friends watching from shore caught a glimpse of what may have been the attack.

Fellow surf club member, Charlie Nakagawa, said he was across the street from the park preparing for work.

"I saw Will take off on a wave. He fell back on the wave, when I saw splashes. Big splashes," Nakagawa said.

"Oh wow," Nakagawa said to himself, thinking it could have been a shark attack.

Nearby, Woznicki's 45-year-old wife, Cassandra, was on a Noelani Condominium Resort balcony overlooking the waters off Pohaku Park. She was videotaping McInnis surfing.

She remembered saying: "He's really great." She put her camera down to eat her cereal and noticed something looked funny.

"It looked like he was laying down on his board," she said.

Woznicki said she then heard a surfer asking people onshore to "call 911."

"I didn't see a shark," she said. But "there was a lot of blood in the water."

Police received a call at 7:08 a.m. about a surfer in distress about 300 yards in front of the Noelani condominium, said Capt. Charles Hirata, commander of the Lahaina Patrol District.

Hirata said no one reported seeing the shark, although a witness described "seeing a flash after the shark attacked." He said the water was murky with 4-foot surf at the time of the attack.

Kalepa said shark sightings were reported in the area a couple of years ago, but no attacks have occurred at the surf spot.

"It's really not known for having sharks," Kalepa said.

He said the beach would be closed for 24 hours for one mile in either direction of the shark attack site, in keeping with standard procedures after such incidents.

Randy Honebrink, spokesman for the Shark Task Force of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, said there are an average of about four shark attacks off the Hawaiian Islands every year. Tiger sharks are the most common in Hawaii, he said.

"They do feed an awful lot at things at the surface," Honebrink said. "They have a nonspecific diet. They'll eat just about anything."

It was not immediately known how large the shark involved in the attack was, but wildlife authorities will try to estimate that by the bite marks, which were estimated to be as long as 14 inches across.

"It has to be a fairly good size shark to do that damage," Honebrink said.

Charles Kauluwehi Maxwell Sr., a Native Hawaiian member of the Hawaii state Shark Task Force, went out to Pohaku Park to survey what had happened.

Maxwell, who headed the successful effort to not have sharks killed said: "I'm happy they are not going to kill the shark."

Maxwell said the water looked murky and that was probably what contributed to the attack.

He said the shark will bite once if it realizes it was not a seal or turtle, which is what it usually preys on. In this case, the victim was bitten once.

"When the water is murky like this, that's when these animals come out," Maxwell said.

There were four shark attacks reported in Hawaii in 2003, including an Oct. 31 incident off the north shore of Kauai in which then 13-year-old surfer Bethany Hamilton lost her left arm.

The last confirmed shark attack death in Hawaii was in 1992 when 18-year-old surfer Aaron Romento of Pearl City was attacked off Oahu.

On Nov. 26, 1991, Martha Joy Morrell, 41, was killed by what was reported to be a 15-foot shark while she was swimming with a friend in the ocean fronting her Olowalu home.

Staff Writer Lila Fujimoto and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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