A surfer who lost part of his right leg after a shark attack last Friday off Kauai has told a local newspaper that he’s grateful just to be alive.
“I’m enjoying waking up and sleeping again, and eating,” the 29-year-old French tourist, who who declined to reveal his name, told The Garden Island. “I feel so good to be alive.”
The surfer was hospitalized in critical condition after the 12-foot shark, believed to be a tiger shark, bit him as he waited for waves 100 yards from shore at Davidson’s, a surf spot near Kekaha. Doctors were unable to save his entire leg.
The attack occurred at about 9 a.m., a day after the man had arrived in Hawaii, prompting a temporary closure of Kekaha Beach. It was the first reported shark attack off Kauai this year.
The surfer, during an interview uploaded to YouTube, thanked responders and doctors for saving his life. He also described the attack, which occurred as he sat on his board.
“I feel it just bite me, and never release for like 10 [seconds], and then I been fighting with him, and then he released me,” the surfer said in broken English. “I was just holding my board… because I felt that with my board floating, he couldn’t pull me in the water.”
Almost immediately after the shark let go, “a beautiful wave came and it just bring me all the way to the shore.”
People rushed to the surfer’s aid, and a man who witnessed the attack told The Garden Island that he immediately telephoned 911.
“The guy rode a wave, desperately,” Ray Mac Pigott recalled. “He was paddling strong, so I knew his upper body was in good shape. The other surfers helped him across the shallow reef, on the sand, and a tourniquet was applied from his own leash.”
The French tourist, a surfing and sailing instructor who gave his name only as Baboo, will require prosthetics and physical therapy before he can resume normal activities. A GoFundMe page has been set up on his behalf.