GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Lisa Miller comforted her husband, Harvey Miller, yesterday afternoon during a news conference at the Queen's Medical Center. Miller was bitten by a tiger shark Thursday at Bellows Beach.
Shark attack off Bellows ‘very unusual’
The last time a biter struck was 1958, and that victim did not live
STORY SUMMARY »
Ray Howell pulled a shark attack victim to shore at Bellows beach Thursday, possibly saving his life.
Victim Harvey Miller of Toledo, Ohio, says Howell is a hero, but Howell disagrees.
The Texas man says it was just the right time to help.
Because of Howell, Miller should be able to walk again in two to three months.
Groggy and tired from medication and the injury, but with enough strength to joke with the media, Miller detailed his experience and thanked Howell.
The last attack in the area was in 1958, when a 15-year-old boy was killed off Lanikai.
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It has been almost half a century since the last shark attack near Bellows, and visitor Harvey Miller wishes he and his 8-foot attacker weren't the ones to break that streak.
Other 2007 Shark Attacks
» Jan. 5: A 24-year-old Waimea man was surfing off Kauai's Waiokapua Bay when a tiger shark bit the right side of his board as he was sitting on it. There were no injuries.
» May 7: A California woman was bitten on her right foot and calf when snorkeling about 25 yards off Maui's Keawakapu Beach. No species was identified.
» June 24: A surfer was paddling out off of Silver (Sylva's) Channel in Mokuleia when what appeared to be a tiger shark bit the right side of his board. There were no injuries.
"I wanted to go out and buy me a couple of lottery tickets," Miller joked. "I think the odds are in my favor today."
The 36-year-old Toledo, Ohio, lawyer was initially told it had been 16 years since the last attack, but state Shark Task Force spokesman Randy Honebrink said the last attack was in 1958 when 15-year-old Billy Weaver was killed by a tiger shark off Lanikai.
"That's the only incident that we know of between Makapuu up to Kaneohe Bay (since then)," Honebrink said. "So it's very unusual."
Shortly after 3 p.m. Thursday, Miller swam out about 150 yards off Bellows Beach hoping to see turtles and saw a school of fish, which swam away. When the shark bit him in the left knee, Miller said he didn't even know it until after he punched the shark's snout twice and tried to swim away but couldn't kick.
"I just remember saying, 'Oh God, not like this,'" he said. "No way."
State and city ocean safety officials completed a sweep of the waters from Lanikai Beach to Waimanalo Bay and spotted a large number of turtles in the area.
Two turtles bitten by a shark were found in the area Thursday afternoon soon after the attack on Miller. No tiger shark was found and officials called off the search.
Honebrink speculated that the shark was feeding on the turtles.
"That area is mostly sandy bottom, and it's pretty shallow for quite a ways out," Honebrink said. "It's not typical tiger shark habitat, necessarily."
GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Shark bite victim Harvey Miller held a news conference yesterday afternoon at the Queen's Medical Center with Dr. Patrick Murray. Miller was been bitten by a tiger shark on Thursday at Bellows Beach.
Miller's description, witness accounts and the bite marks on Miller and the two turtles are consistent with a tiger shark attack, Honebrink said.
"It sort of follows that where you have prey, the predators are going to show up," he said. "This one was about 8 feet, which is about the size when they switch their diets to include things like turtles."
Miller said he is not an experienced beach person, and did not know that sharks often look to turtles for food.
"I was intentionally looking for turtles," Miller said. "I think they're magnificent animals. Unfortunately, I look too much like one, I guess."
Honebrink said sharks might be able to discriminate between turtles and humans, but also have a general attitude when it comes to what to feed on.
"They go after things on the surface, and the only way a shark can tell whether something is (a) potential food source is by biting it," Honebrink said.
Miller is expected to be hospitalized at the Queen's Medical Center until Monday. At a news conference yesterday, he was in a wheelchair, with a blanket covering his legs.
Because he was on medication, Miller appeared groggy and tired, which is not his typical demeanor, said his wife, Lisa.
She described her husband as a lively jokester. She said their four children, family and friends did not believe him at first when he said he was bitten by a shark.
The couple, both 36, arrived in Hawaii on Monday with their parents and extended family for a vacation until next Friday.
Dr. Patrick Murray of the Queen's Medical Center said the shark damaged several nerves and the knee, leaving a 12-inch gash.
It was luck that the shark did not severe the femoral artery, which would have been life-threatening, Murray said.
"I know that it was protection from above -- that my family needs me here and that I can be here for them," Miller said. "That's the explanation I offer. I know it's not a medical explanation."
Murray said Miller might need a nerve graft and that it will be two to three months until he can walk again.
Miller said his top two fears regarding the injury are how it will affect his golf swing and whether he can shoot hoops with his 14-year-old son, Travis. The doctor said Miller could be hitting the hardwood within a year.