Monday, March 22, 1999

Visitor says wife died
after attack by shark

By Gary T. Kubota


WAILUKU -- A visitor to Maui told fire officials his newlywed wife was fatally attacked by a shark after their kayak was blown off shore by high winds near Lahaina.

"He was distraught," said Assistant Chief Richard Fernandez.

The man said he and his wife went for a ride on a rented kayak Thursday at a beach near the Olowalu side of the Lahaina pali and were blown off shore by high winds, according to fire officials.

They were identified as Manouchehr Monazzami-Taghadom, 39, and his wife, Nahid Davoodabai, 29, of Sunnyvale, Calif. .

"They got off the kayak and tried to swim back pulling the kayak," Fernandez recalled the man as saying.

"The shark took off one of her arms."

The man said he got back on the kayak, pulled his wife onto it, and tried to stop her bleeding by tying a tourniquet around her injured arm with the tie from his swim trunks, Fernandez said.

The man told fire officials his wife died in his arms. He said he drifted after the attack and landed on Kahoolawe at about 7 a.m. Friday morning.

Fernandez said the man found a telephone in a military bunker on Kahoolawe and called for help close to 11:45 a.m. yesterday.

Fernandez said fire officials conducted a helicopter search of the island but found no woman.

He said officials saw a kayak about 3/4 of a mile away from the bunker. A police spokesman said detectives hoped to retrieve the kayak today. The man reportedly suffered from exposure.

Drownings and shark
attacks: Are they
high this year?

By Jaymes K. Song


It's been a deadly year in the waters off the islands.

Bullet Jan. 19: George Angus, 73, of Ontario, Canada, drowned while swimming near Ala Moana Beach Park.
Bullet Feb. 3: Gordon Jones, 86, of California, drowned while swimming off of Poipu Beach, Kauai.
Bullet Feb. 12: U.S. Marine Kenneth Abell, 21, was swept away near the Mokulua islands. His body was never found.
Bullet Feb. 22: Hawaii Pacific University student Kuang Lo, 18, drowned at Ala Moana Beach Park.
Bullet Feb. 25: Waianae fisherman Stanley Napierala, 55, was reported missing after his boat capsized in rough waters near Kaena Point. His body was recovered two days later.
Bullet March 5: Ted Davis, 45, of Arizona drowned while snorkeling near the Ihilani Resort & Spa.
Bullet March 5: Robin Knutson, 29, of Maui was attacked by a shark about 300 yards off of Kaanapali. She suffered a 13-inch gash on her leg.
Bullet March 8: Jonathan Allen, 18, from Arizona was bitten by a shark while bodyboarding at Kealia Beach, Kauai. He was treated and released.
Bullet March 8: John Hendrick, 46, of Haleiwa, drowned while trying to swim to shore from a boat anchored about 100 yards off of Sunset Beach.
Bullet March 8: Eduardo Manzano, 33, of Honolulu drowned off of Waialae Beach Park.
Bullet March 10: Larry Reis, 43, of Nanakuli suffered a stroke while spear-fishing off of Tracks Beach Park and drowned.
Bullet March 21: A visitor on Maui tells police his wife was killed in a shark attack.

The toll: nine drownings, three reported shark attacks. But is the danger any higher than it usually is?

Here's what officials at the National Marine and Fisheries and the Ocean Safety Division at the Parks and Recreation Department had to say:

Question: Are the deaths high this year?

Answer: No, the state averages about one death in the ocean every week for the past 15 years. Sometimes there are no deaths for several weeks. And sometimes there are several in one day.

Q: Have you noticed anything in common with the most recent deaths?

A: Most of the deaths were at beaches or areas with no lifeguard service, or they occurred during hours when lifeguards were not on duty.

Q: What groups are most at risk of drowning?

A: Overall, men between 35 and 45 are most at risk. They often overextend themselves in the ocean.

They underestimate the strength and stamina needed for ocean activities. Also, they have medical problems such as heart attacks and strokes.

For residents, the group most at risk is teen-age and young men.

For tourists, Japanese women between 20 to 24 are most at risk.

Q: What are some new challenges lifeguards are facing?

A: There's a huge increase in people participating in activities far away from the beach such as canoeing, kayaking and windsurfing. Instead of being 100 or 200 yards off the beach, they are one or two miles away.

Q: What should a swimmer who has never been in the ocean consider before entering the waters?

A: The ocean is a dynamic environment that changes. A swimming pool doesn't change. It's not just the water that is hazardous; it's everything: the waves, rocks, people, sharks, coral.

Q: How many people use Oahu beaches every year?

A: About 17 million.

Q: Was a great white shark responsible for the attack on Maui?

A: It is still unknown. A witness told officials that the shark's nose was pointed like a great white's. However, white sharks are rare to the Hawaiian Islands. Great whites are found in Australia, South Africa and Northern California, near large families of seals and sea lions.

Q: How big was the shark that bit Knutson?

A: Judging from the 13-inch bite to her leg, the shark was about 12 feet long.

Q: How many shark bites have there been for the past 10 years?

A: There have been about 20 confirmed shark bites around the islands in the past 10 years.

Q: What is the best way to avoid a shark?

A: Stay at lease one-half mile away from any dead or injured sea animal.

Q: How common are shark attacks?

A: Shark attacks are rare. You have a greater chance of getting injured driving to the beach than getting attacked by a shark.

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