Brave visitor from Texas yanks savaged swimmer out of the sea
The man who swam out to pull a bleeding shark attack victim to shore says he's no hero.
But the victim, Harvey Miller, whose life might have been saved by Ray Howell and another man identified as Don Ewing, disagrees.
"He's my hero," Miller said yesterday of Howell. "I owe my life to that man -- going into the water knowing there's a shark to drag a complete stranger. It's touching."
"It was just my time to help," said Howell, 57, a financial director for ALCOA, a refinery in Texas.
Howell credits Mitchell for saving his own life by fighting off the shark and yelling for help.
Howell, a Victoria, Texas, resident vacationing in Hawaii, was playing cards with his family on the lanai of a rented cabin at Bellows Air Force Station when he heard someone calling for help.
"There was a pitch and tone in that voice that was just too serious. Once you heard that, you do what you have to do," he said.
Howell said he did not hear Miller yell "shark."
"I wasn't sure what his trouble was," he said. But understanding he was in trouble, he ran to the water, threw off his shoes and swam to Miller about 30 to 40 yards out.
"There was a lot of fear in his eyes," Howell said. "That look on his face was fear and relief (when he saw me). You could see that even through his goggles," he said.
Grabbing Miller under the shoulder and pulling him to shore, Howell noticed the blood on Miller's leg.
Once ashore, Howell and a Bellows employee identified as Ewing wrapped a towel and used a belt around Miller's leg to stop the bleeding.
After learning that a shark attacked Miller, Howell became more concerned that Miller would go into shock. "If his eyes rolled, I don't know what I would have done," he said.
The shark left a large gash on one side of Miller's left leg and marks all around his kneecap and lower leg, Howell said.
"I just was there at the right time for him at the right beach. I just feel good helping someone," he said.
Although the two had not spoken yesterday, Howell said Miller's father-in-law called to let him know how Miller was doing.
Bellows Beach remained closed yesterday, and many beachgoers spent time building sand structures.
Military officials plan to reopen the beach today when lifeguards return to work at 10 a.m.
Honolulu emergency officials reopened Lanikai Beach and Waimanalo Bay yesterday at 12:30 p.m.