Shark scrapes bodyboarder’s foot
The teen returns from the water with only a gash on his heel
Bodyboarder Joshua Sumait escaped with only a 4-inch gash on his right heel Tuesday during a close encounter with a shark.
"I thought I was going to die right when everything was happening," Sumait, 15, said. "I thought it was going to come back for more. I'm glad it didn't."
Sumait, of Hauula, was about 400 yards off shore from Crouching Lion Inn when his friend saw the shark and shouted a warning. Sumait turned and saw his foot in the mouth of a 10- to 12-foot long tiger shark and kicked it to get way.
"My fin was in its mouth when I turned around," he said. "If it were to bite, my whole foot would have been gone."
Before the encounter, Sumait and his three buddies had seen a "big fin" go down as they were paddling out.
"We didn't really think much of it, so that was a bad choice on our part," he said. "We went out anyway."
After the shark encounter, Sumait swam back to shore, and his friends drove him to the Kaaawa Fire Station. He was later taken to the hospital to receive seven stitches.
"I'm fine," he said, adding that he was using crutches. "It doesn't really hurt."
It was an unusual wound to have from a shark, said Randy Honebrink, state Shark Task Force spokesman, but added, "There was no reason not to believe that was what it was."
"Sharks' teeth are razor sharp," he said. "All he'd have to do is graze against one, and it would slice him like a scalpel."
Honebrink said Sumait's close encounter occurred in an area where shark bites are relatively rare. "It's just not the place where it happens very often," he said.
The last time a shark had injured a person in that area was in 1993, when a surfer's feet were bitten as he paddled off Malaekahana State Recreational Area.
Sumait's injury came about six weeks after an 8-foot tiger shark bit Harvey Miller from Toledo, Ohio, on the left leg as he snorkeled 150 yards off Bellows Beach park.
The shark task force went out to warn beachgoers about an hour after the incident, but the day had already begun to grow dark. Sumait said that he and his three friends were the only people in the water.
The incident will be recorded in an international shark encounter database in Florida for shark bite trends, Honebrink said.
More information about sharks in Hawaii can be found online at www.hawaiisharks.org.