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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, November 18, 2002

Shark attacks woman on Maui

By Karen Blakeman
Advertiser Staff Writer

A San Diego woman was bitten by what she believed to be a 6- to 8-foot shark while swimming off Ka'anapali yesterday morning. It was the second suspected shark attack off Maui in less than a month.

The woman, in her early to mid-30s, suffered bite wounds around her right shoulder, with lacerations along the breast line and back, paramedics said. Her right hand was nearly severed by a second bite.

She was taken by ambulance to Maui Memorial Medical Center, where she remained in stable condition last night.

Police said the attack occurred about 10:45 a.m. off the beach area near the Maui Kai Condominiums and Embassy Vacation Resort. State Department of Land and Natural Resources officials were called in to investigate.

Jerry Wright, a spokesman for ambulance company American Medical Response, said the woman told paramedics she trained for triathlons and had been swimming in the deeper water beyond the shore break.

"She said it felt like she collided with the shark," Wright said. "It bit her on the shoulder, then again on the right hand.

The woman screamed, but the few people on the shore could not hear her. She was wearing fins and began kicking her way back, and when she got to shore several people rushed to her aid and applied pressure to the wounds, he said.

In the ambulance, the woman said the shark looked and felt about 8 feet long, and she was sure it was at least 6 feet because it was longer than she was tall.

Paramedics said the woman thought it was ironic that she should be bitten, because for years she had been telling friends that one has a better chance of being struck by lightning.

She said she didn't know the depth of the water where the attack occurred, and didn't say whether the water was murky, Wright said.

On Oct. 30, a 62-year-old woman suffered deep cuts on her right foot after she was bitten by what officials suspected was a shark off south Maui.

That incident occurred shortly before noon at Kama'ole Beach Park I in Kihei, where the woman was swimming in 10 to 15 feet of water about 20 to 30 yards from shore. The water was murky from recent rains and she did not see what bit her.

She was taken to Maui Memorial Medical Center, where she underwent surgery.

Officials say three to four shark incidents occur every year in Hawai'i, although there have been at least six shark attacks reported this year.

Arnold Lum, 55, was on a surfboard Sept. 27 off Kahala Beach when a 4-foot-long black tip shark bit his board.

On Aug. 28, a tiger shark 11 to 12 feet long bit the foot of Shawn Farden, 16, ripping the end off his surfboard in the Kewalo Basin channel.

On March 25, bodyboarder Hoku Aki, 17, lost his left foot in a shark attack at Brennecke Beach on Kaua'i.

Tommy Holmes, 35, of Los Angeles, was bitten on the buttocks New Year's Day while snorkeling off Olowalu, Maui.

In August, the DLNR posted permanent warning signs along the Olowalu shore. Three shark attacks have occurred there in last 11 years.

Reach Karen Blakeman at 535-2430 or kblakeman@honoluluadvertiser.com.