Thursday, April 8, 2004

Shark kills surfer,
57, off Maui

A Napili man dies from
loss of blood after being
attacked at about 7:05 a.m.


KAHANA, Maui >> Surfer Rodger Coombs was paddling out off Pohaku Park yesterday morning when he heard his friend Willis R. McInnis cry for help from about 200 yards offshore.

When he reached McInnis, Coombs realized his friend's right leg had been mangled by a shark. Coombs said he got off his board and tried to push McInnis on his longboard to shore.

McInnis told Coombs, "I think my leg is toast."

Coombs responded, "You're going to be OK, you're going to be OK."

But Coombs and other bystanders who rushed to help could not save McInnis, 57, of Napili. He died shortly after the shark bit his leg about 7:05 a.m. off Maui's western shore.

State officials closed area beaches for at least 24 hours after the attack.

Surf was reported to be about 4 feet high at the popular surfing site known as S-Turns near Pohaku Park. The water was murky at the time of the attack, witnesses said.

Several witnesses said they tried to help McInnis, who collapsed as he and Coombs reached a rocky section of the shoreline.

Coombs said he held McInnis' head above the surf, and others helped him carry him to shore.

Bryan Lamy, a retired police officer from Southern California, said he and other bystanders applied pressure above the wound to stop the bleeding, but it was too late.

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

He said McInnis stopped breathing shortly after he was pulled out of the water.

"It's a real unfortunate day for that man. It's an awful thing," Lamy said.

Jeffrey Woznicki, a fire captain from Milwaukee, said fire rescue workers arrived and tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate him.

McInnis suffered serious injuries to his leg that were consistent with a shark bite and had severe blood loss, police Capt. Charles Hirata said.

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

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

In 1999, the husband of Nahid Davoodabadi, 29, of Sunnyvale, Calif., said his wife was killed by a shark while the couple was kayaking in waters off West Maui. Her body was never recovered.

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

By late morning yesterday, dozens of McInnis' friends had gathered at Pohaku Park, and a flower memorial with a photograph of him was placed on a park bench.

Friends said McInnis lived life to the fullest.

He had worked as a sales project manager for a time-share company in Oregon and had recently completed a 2,600-mile tour across the United States on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

Fellow members of the Hui O Pohaku Park surf club said McInnis was retired and divorced with a son in Oregon. He first came to Maui in the 1970s, they said.

Kalei Kauhane, a fellow surfer, said McInnis loved surfing and loved watching surfing.

Kauhane said his friend went back to the mainland last year to sell off his belongings and move to Maui.

John Stockham, a friend, said McInnis had been visiting Maui since the 1970s and was a spiritual person.

"He just enjoyed helping people," Stockham said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

4 isle deaths attributed to sharks since 1991

By Rosemarie Bernardo

Fatal shark attacks in Hawaii are "an extremely rare event," according to a spokesman for the state's Shark Task Force.

Randy Honebrink noted that fatal shark attacks are always unpredictable. There is an average of about four shark attacks in Hawaii each year, with the last confirmed fatal attack being in 1992.

"There's no pattern to how it happens," said Honebrink.

Permanent warning signs were posted at Olowalu on Maui after three shark attacks -- one fatal -- within 12 years.

"Olowalu had a history and reputation," said Honebrink.

He recommended beachgoers stay out of murky water.

"But the thing is, most of the time, people are in waters like that and nothing happens," Honebrink said.

The following confirmed fatal shark attacks occurred recently off Maui and Oahu. No recent fatal attacks have been reported off Kauai or the Big Island:

>> Nov. 5, 1992: Aaron Romento was killed by a shark while bodyboarding about 9:45 a.m. in waters 30 yards offshore at Keeau Beach Park on Oahu.

>> Nov. 26, 1991: Martha Morrell was killed by a shark while swimming 100 yards from the shore at Olowalu on Maui.

In two other instances, the bodies of presumed shark attack victims were never found.

>> March 18, 1999: A 29-year-old California woman, Nahid Davoodabai, died in channel waters off Maui's west side. Her husband reported a shark bit off her arm while she was kayaking.

>> Feb. 19, 1992: Bryan Adona did not return from bodyboarding at Leftovers, west of Waimea Bay, Oahu. The bodyboard was found the following morning with a 16-inch crescent-shaped piece missing.


Some recent nonfatal shark attacks

Since 1990 there have been 15 shark attacks off Maui, 14 off Oahu, seven off Kauai, five off the Big Island and one off Molokai that involved minor, severe or fatal injuries to victims.

Here are the Hawaii shark attacks that involved injuries in the last three years:

>> Oct. 31: Bethany Hamilton was surfing at Tunnels at Makua Beach on Kauai when she was attacked by a shark about 7:30 a.m. She lost her left arm below the shoulder. Officials believed it was a 14-foot tiger shark.

>> Oct. 5: Clara Alo was wading near a fishing net when she was attacked by a 4- to 5-foot gray-colored shark at Kalama Beach on Maui about 12:55 p.m. Alo received injuries to her left thigh, right knee and right index finger.

>> June 24: John Marrack was snorkeling with a pod of dolphins about 8 a.m. when he was bitten on his right foot by a shark estimated at about 12 to 14 feet long at Makua Beach on Oahu.

>> May 10: Koa Paulo was swimming between Magic Sands Beach and Kahaluu Beach on the Big Island when he was attacked at about 12:45 p.m. by a gray-colored shark estimated at about 6 feet. Paulo had injuries to his right lower calf, ankle and foot.

>> Nov. 17, 2002: Julie Glance was swimming off Kaanapali on Maui when she was attacked by an 8- to 10-foot shark about 10:45 a.m. Glance suffered injuries to her right shoulder and forearm.

>> Oct. 30, 2002: Karen Miller was swimming at Kamaole I Beach Park on Maui when she was attacked by a small shark at about 11 a.m. She received injuries to her left foot.

>> Aug. 28, 2002: Shawn Farden was surfing at Kewalo's on Oahu when he was attacked by an 8- to 10-foot tiger shark about 3:45 p.m. Farden suffered an injury to his left foot while duck-diving under the wave.

>> March 25, 2002: Hoku Aki was bodyboarding at Brennecke's Beach on Kauai when he was bitten by a shark about noon. The shark ripped off his lower left leg.

>> Jan. 1, 2002: Thomas Holmes was attacked while snorkeling off Olowalu on Maui around 1 p.m. Holmes suffered cuts to his buttocks. A tiger shark was seen in the area before and after the attack.

>> April 11, 2001: Gilbert Dano was attacked while surfing at Ewa Beach on Oahu around 7 a.m. He received minor puncture wounds and cuts to his left hand by a shark about 3 feet long.

>> March 23, 2001: Michael Mendez was attacked while bodyboarding at Sandy Beach on Oahu around 2:40 p.m. He had minor cuts to his left hand.

Source: State Aquatics Resources Division


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