Woman bitten by shark recalls ordeal off Big Island

Updated: Aug. 20, 2019 at 3:47 PM HST
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KONA, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A 26-year-old swimmer was seriously injured Tuesday morning after suffering an apparent shark bite off the Big Island’s Napoopoo Beach Park.

The woman wants to remain anonymous, but released a written statement through Kona Community Hospital.

She said she had been snorkeling in Kealakekua Bay and then swam near a pod of dolphins. When she was about 30 feet from shore, something bumped her back hard and she realized she had been bitten.

In a statement she said, “The shark knew it had made a mistake; that I wasn’t its natural prey. It let go. I looked back and saw the shark’s face out of the water as it turned and swam away. Then, my natural instincts took over. I knew I had to make it to shore, and screamed for help.”

She was listed in stable condition at Kona Community Hospital with injuries to her lower back and right hip.

Kona resident Kawika Singson was snorkeling on the other side of the bay, near the Captain Cook monument, when emergency personnel told everyone to get out of the water.

“I never heard of a shark attack in that particular bay so I was surprised and a little bit shocked to hear that a woman was bitten by a shark, but on the other hand, I can understand because the water was very murky,” he said.

Singson ended up in a group of about 20 people who had to be shuttled back to the other side of the bay on jet skis.

“You feel sort of comforted knowing that there’s the lifeguards and DLNR, and they’re on top of it,” he said. “They didn’t want to take the chance of possibly having a second shark attack, which I can totally understand.”

Warning signs were posted on both sides of Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park on Tuesday. They were taken down the next day.

One tour operator at the bay ended up taking guests to a different location for snorkeling excursions on Tuesday.

“(It’s) just an unfortunate incident that does unfortunately occur once in awhile here in Hawaii. Just wanted to make sure that our community didn’t have a tremendous amount of panic," said Colin Cornforth of Captain Zodiac Rafting Adventures. “Never seen an incident like this in the past in my 17 years of being down at Kealakekua.”

In her statement, the woman said she has been living and working at a bed and breakfast near Kealakekua Bay since arriving on the Big Island.

She also expressed her gratitude to the Good Samaritans, emergency personnel, hospital staff and the owners of the bed and breakfast where she works.

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