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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, June 1, 2006

Diver bitten by shark off North Shore

By John Windrow
Advertiser Staff Writer

A diver at a North Shore surf spot was rescued by two friends after he fended off an attacking shark with his spear gun yesterday.

Family and friends identified the man as Ronald Deguilmo, 26, of Waipi'o. Noel Deguilmo said Ronald Deguilmo is his younger brother and is a restaurant manager at the Outback Steakhouse in Waipi'o.

Ronald Deguilmo was free diving in about 25 feet of water with friends at the North Shore surf spot known as Marijuanas near Chun's Reef when he was attacked about 1:30 p.m., said EMS spokesman Bryan Cheplic. He suffered cuts to his left forearm, Cheplic said.

James Santiago, 24, of Pearl City, and Tommy Miller, 29, of Mililani, who work at the steakhouse with Deguilmo, were with him at the time of the attack.

"He was about 20 yards away from us," Santiago said. "I looked up and I heard him screaming, 'I got hit! I got bit by a shark!' "

"We started swimming toward him and tried not to panic."

Miller said at first he didn't take it seriously. "At first we were like, he was playing around, and then we saw that he got hit."

Deguilmo showed them his left forearm where he had been bitten.

"It looked pretty bad," Santiago said. "It was pretty bloody. It was deep."

Santiago said that as he and his friend swam Deguilmo to shore, he told them that he had whacked the shark with the butt of his spear gun.

"He told us that he hit it when the shark was tugging at his arm," Santiago said. "When he hit it, it let him go."

Miller said that the two of them took turns, one supporting Deguilmo and the other swimming behind with a spear gun, keeping lookout in case the shark returned.


Miller said he and Santiago never saw the shark, "Only he (Deguilmo) saw it," Miller said. "We were nervous, but we were more worried about getting our friend in."

He said when they reached shore, they went to a house and asked the people there to call 911.

Ronald Deguilmo was taken to Wahiawa General Hospital and then transferred to St. Francis Medical Center West, said his brother, Noel Deguilmo.

"They said he would recover but he might not have all the feeling in his fingers," Noel Deguilmo said.

After the attack, city lifeguards posted warning signs from Laniakea to Waimea Bay.

Lifeguards were assigned to patrol the beaches along that stretch until nightfall yesterday and were to reassess the situation this morning, said Cheplic, the EMS spokesman.

On May 22, two shark sightings in the same area spooked swimmers and prompted the posting of several warning signs.

Surfers and lifeguards spotted two 13-foot sharks and two sharks 6 feet to 8 feet long cruising near Chun's Reef and Piddleys.

At the time of the sighting, about 10 surfers and swimmers were in the water, and half of them swam ashore after lifeguards alerted people with bullhorns.

Shortly after the sighting at Chun's Reef, lifeguards spotted several sharks near Laniakea, prompting lifeguards to deploy on jet watercraft to chase people out of the water.


Before yesterday's incident, the most recent O'ahu shark attack occurred March 23, when a 28-year-old visitor from Vancouver, British Columbia, suffered five puncture wounds in her left calf from a shark that bit and released her.

On Feb. 28, a 15-year-old Kihei girl received a severe bite wound when an 8-foot-long shark ripped into her lower right leg at Makena State Park on Maui.

Staff writer Eloise Aguiar contributed to this report.

Reach John Windrow at jwindrow@honoluluadvertiser.com.