RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Shark bite victim Harvey Miller, left, and Ray Howell, who helped pull him to shore, prepared yesterday morning for live interviews with mainland morning talk shows as Howell's sister Barbara Hooton took a picture of them outside the Queen's Medical Center. CLICK FOR LARGE
Shark victim and rescuer share spotlight
The two recall details of the shark attack that left an Ohio man in a wheelchair
Harvey Miller was reunited yesterday with the "humble" man who saved his life after a tiger shark bit his leg while he was snorkeling off Bellows beach.
"You're looking good," Ray Howell told Miller early today, four days after the attack.
Sitting in a wheelchair with a blanket over his left leg, Miller thanked Howell for saving his life.
Almost immediately the men starting talking about what happened, filling in the gaps of their respective memories of those chaotic moments.
On Thursday at about 3 p.m., Miller was swimming about 150 yards from shore at Bellows Air Force Station when an 8-foot tiger shark bit him near his left knee.
Miller punched the shark in the side to get away and yelled for help. Howell, who was on the lanai of a rented cabin, heard Miller's pleas and jumped into the water. Howell's sister grabbed a maintenance man for help, and his brother-in-law called 911.
Howell said on national TV today that Miller did not know anyone was coming to help until he got within about 10 yards of him.
"When I heard, 'I'm here,' that was my saving grace right there," Miller said. "Sometimes God puts us where he needs us. I'm appreciative that you answered his call and saved my life."
Howell told Miller he saved himself.
"You got to remember what you did," he said. "You fought that (shark) off, you called (out). ... You really took control of that situation."
Miller, a lawyer from Toledo, Ohio, arrived in Hawaii on July 16 with his wife, their parents and extended family for a vacation until Friday.
His wife Lisa, 36, had been body boarding farther up the beach when her husband was attacked.
Because of the attack, military police told her and others to get out of the water, but she did not know who the victim was until she got to the area where her husband had been snorkeling.
"I just broke down. My dad kind of helped me from not falling," she said.
She recalled how Howell's sister gave her shoes to wear to the hospital.
"I didn't even have any shoes on. Ray's sister gave me her shoes," she said. "I didn't know the lady I was talking to was Ray's sister."
She added, "I'm so very grateful for him (Howell) and his willingness to go save a stranger."
Just after midnight, Miller and Howell met at the Queen's Medical Center for live interviews on CBS' "The Early Show" and ABC's "Good Morning America."
Tomorrow, Howell, his wife and their 18-year-old daughter will return to their hometown of Victoria, Texas, ending a one-week vacation with family living in Kaneohe.
A financial director with the refinery Alcoa, Howell said the experience and media attention has been a little overwhelming. But he added that he is OK with it.
"It's not very often you get a chance to get this kind of attention, and it's for the right reasons," he said.
"He's a humble guy," Miller said of Howell. "He's a great man. I remember him telling me to relax, stop kicking. I was trying to help him swim, and he was just like, 'Relax, I got you.' I really appreciate his courage."
Doctors have said that the shark damaged several of Miller's nerves and his knee, leaving a 12-inch gash on his leg. He could need a nerve graft and might not walk for another two to three months, but within a year he could be playing sports again.
"I think we're going to exchange some e-mails and pictures," Miller said. "Hopefully we won't have any reunions on the beach."