Wednesday, October 6, 1999

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
Jesse Spencer, 16, from a family photo, is recovering at
Queen's Hospital from a shark attack in Kona last week. His
aunt, Diane Ley, right, spoke for Jesse and his family at a
press conference at the hospital yesterday. She said her
nephew plans to continue surfing.

Shark victim
eager to get back
to surfing

The Big Island teen-ager
learned it's not wise to be out
in the ocean after the
sun goes down

Star-Bulletin staff


A 16-year-old Big Island boy who was attacked by a shark while surfing near Kailua-Kona early Friday evening wants to surf again, according to his aunt.

In a news conference yesterday at Queen's Hospital, Diane Ley said her nephew, Jesse Spencer, is in fair condition and feeling upbeat.

She said Spencer knew he was at risk by being in the water at sunset.

"Jesse wants to give this tip to other surfers," Ley said. ""Be careful when and where you are surfing, be more aware of what's going on around you, and make it a point to get out of the water before the sun goes down.'"

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
His aunt, Diane Ley spoke for Jesse and his family at a
press conference at the hospital yesterday. She said her
nephew plans to continue surfing.

Spencer was surfing off Old Kona Airport park when a shark thought to be 6 to 8 feet long bit and injured his right arm. A Kona hospital initially listed him in critical condition.

Ley's nephew, a Kealakehe High School junior, has not talked much about the attack, she said.

Spencer, who is an only child, and his parents -- whom Ley declined to name -- wished to thank everyone for their assistance, Ley said.

She added that aside from surfing, Spencer enjoys auto mechanics. His father is a woodcrafter and draftsman while his mother operates a Kona marketing business, Ley said.

Jesse did not lose any part of his right arm, which was badly lacerated, and there is circulation. Doctors are evaluating options of what could be "a long restorative process," Ley said.

The family is exploring options to establish a medical trust fund that would allow for public contributions to help with medical costs. Anyone interested can call (808) 322-3720 or 328-2513 for further information.

The mother of Mike Coots, 20, of Kauai, whose right leg was bitten off in an October 1997 shark attack, understands what Spencer is going through.

"When you encounter something that's so close to death," Karla Bailey said, "you just feel very happy to be alive."

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