Shark bites spear diver
Lifeguards close some North Shore beaches after a snorkeler suffers an arm gash
A SHARK, described as at least 9 feet long, apparently bit a 29-year-old man who was spearfishing yesterday near "Leftovers," a surf spot on the North Shore.
It is the second shark bite near the surf spot in three months and follows shark sightings that prompted warnings at nearby beaches last week.
James Santiago said he and the victim, whom he identified as Ronald Deguilmo, were spearfishing with another friend about 250 yards offshore in about 20 to 25 feet of water at about 1:30 p.m. when Deguilmo yelled, "I got bit!"
Santiago said he and Thomas Miller, the other diver, wrapped Deguilmo's left forearm with T-shirts they were wearing and brought him to shore.
Santiago described Deguilmo's shark bite as 2 1/2 inches wide, 4 or 5 inches long and at least 2 inches deep. "It was pretty bad," he said.
Deguilmo never lost consciousness, but Santiago said he could not clench his fist.
Paramedics, lifeguards and firefighters arrived and took Deguilmo to Wahiawa General Hospital, where he was treated and then transferred to St. Francis West Medical Center, where doctors were to operate on him last night. A nursing supervisor said he was in stable condition.
Santiago said tendons in Deguilmo's left hand might need to be repaired.
Deguilmo was the only one who saw the shark, which he described as between 9 to 12 feet long.
Deguilmo told them the shark was tugging at his left forearm. He hit the shark with his spear gun a couple of times before it released his arm, Santiago said.
Bryan Cheplic, an Emergency Medical Services and Ocean Safety Division spokesman, said lifeguards closed beaches for about a mile in each direction after the attack and advised people to stay out of the water.
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Keoni Johnson, who witnessed the shark attack, looked over the North Shore beach where it happened yesterday, near the "Leftovers" surf spot.
But at 3 p.m., signs were not up at the beach where the shark bite occurred, and tourists were snorkeling as a Fire Department helicopter hovered overhead.
Marilyn Machado, who is renting a beach house about 250 yards down the beach from "Leftovers," said she saw the firefighters and paramedics but did not know about the shark attack until a reporter informed her.
"I was just snorkeling this morning," she said, pointing to the area next to where the shark attack occurred. She said she waved at the Fire Department helicopter when she saw it hovering over the water.
Cheplic said the beach where the attack occurred -- about halfway between Laniakea and Waimea Bay -- is not staffed and is patrolled by lifeguards on all-terrain vehicles.
He said it might have taken a couple of hours before warning signs were posted because lifeguards have to drive to where the signs are stored and drive back to post them. He said shark warning signs are normally taken down at night because people steal or vandalize them.
Lifeguards will post the signs again this morning and re-evaluate whether to keep the beaches closed after consulting with shark experts, Cheplic said.
Santiago said he was the only one of the three divers who had speared a fish after being in the water for about a half-hour before the attack.
The three friends work together at the Outback Steakhouse in Waipio Gentry, where Deguilmo is a manager.
Conditions were perfect for skin diving and snorkeling when the attack occurred. The water was calm and visibility was good.
On March 24, visiting surfer Liz Dunn, 28, was bitten in her left leg while surfing at "Leftovers" in murky conditions.
Lifeguards also posted shark warning signs last week after sharks were seen off of Chun's Reef and Laniakea on May 22.
Reporter Leila Fujimori also contributed to this story.