Woman injured in apparent shark attack

Bryan Cheplic
Bryan Cheplic

By Stephen Florino - bio | email

MAKAHA (KHNL) - Lifeguards scour the waters in Makaha, after a woman is bitten -- apparently by a shark. Experts say they're not sure at this point.

They still need more information, but they say it sounds like a shark attack.

If it is, it's the first one in Hawaii this year.

It happened on Oahu's west side along the Waianae coast. The victim was snorkeling Friday morning off of Lahilahi Beach, which is about one mile south of Makaha Beach.

The victim is a visitor, believed to be in her 40's.

She suffered severe cuts, and was taken to the hospital in serious condition.

Officials say if it wasn't for the help of some bystanders, the result could've been much worse.

Warning signs line Lahilahi Beach in Makaha.

It's after a woman is bitten -- apparently by a shark.

Witnesses say she was snorkeling at the point when the attack happened.

She made it to shore on her own.

"She was holding her arm, and we noticed blood running down her, and she said help please," said Tony Chapman, a good Samaritan. "she was real calm and everything. I think at that point, we was more excited than she was."

That's because the wound is severe.

"Maybe 6 to 8 inches wide," said good Samaritan Roger Debebar. "And a piece of meat just hanging out. Looked like a piece of roast."

Chapman and Debebar tie a tourniquet around the woman's arm, to help stop the bleeding.

Meanwhile, Chopper-8 captures lifeguards and state officers as they search for the shark.

One is spotted, by officials and beachgoers.

"Whoo, it was huge. It was big as, what are those things called, jet skis. It was that big, and we were like oh my god, it was a big shark."

Officials aren't sure if the shark spotted is the one that bit the woman.

But witnesses say she actually said it wasn't that big.

"I would really like to thank the bystanders, the quick thinking of the bystanders, because she was able to get herself to shore, but the bystanders in the building right here were able to get out some towels and blankets and control the bleeding, and essentially, basically save her life," said Bryan Cheplic, Emergency Medical Services spokesperson.

"No, I just feel like somebody who helped out another human being that was in need."

Officially, beaches are not closed.

But warning signs are posted and everyone is being urged to stay out of the water.

Authorities will re-assess the situation Saturday morning, before taking down the warning signs.