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Thursday, October 19, 2000

Maui shark
victim stable

The California woman says
she'll 'have shark tattoos
put on the scars'

By Gary Kubota

WAILUKU -- Shark attack victim Henrietta Musselwhite was in stable condition this morning and "feeling fine" at Maui Memorial Hospital, despite two large lacerations on her back and puncture wounds to a thigh.

Map Musselwhite, 56, of Geyserville, Calif., was snorkeling yesterday morning when a shark attacked her in 30 feet of clear water about a half-mile offshore on the edge of the reef at Olowalu in West Maui.

The beaches at Olowalu were expected to remain closed at least until noon today until state conservation officials are able to determine the waters are safe. Warning signs are posted along the shore, and state conservation enforcement workers were patrolling the beaches. The beach where the attack occurred is frequented by snorkelers and commercial dive tours.

The attack took place less than a mile from where West Maui resident Marti Morrell was killed by a shark as she was swimming near her beachfront home in 1991.

Kayaker Ron Bass said he was paddling a kayak with Musselwhite's daughter as Musselwhite was snorkeling at about 11 a.m.

"There was a bunch of whitewater around her. I saw this gray thing come out of the water three times," Bass said. "She yelled for help really quick when it happened."

Bass said he put Musselwhite on his kayak and brought her to shore. He said the two wounds to Musselwhite's back were "more like slashes" -- about 3 inches wide. One was 6 inches long; the other, about 4 inches. "The wounds were really bad," Bass said. "If she had swum back with those lacerations, she probably would have bled to death."

Bass said she was breathing hard but remained calm. "She maintained her cool," he said. "She said, 'I guess I'll have shark tattoos put on the scars.'"

Bass said Musselwhite, who had been staying at Camp Pecusa with her daughter, has been visiting Maui for the past 20 years and snorkeling out to the same area to watch sea turtles.

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