Big Island surfer hospitalized from shark attack

Big Island surfer hospitalized from shark attack

NORTH KONA, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - Kiholo Bay doesn't get waves year round but it was hitting Wednesday.  However it is also known to be frequented by sharks as surfer Paul Santos found out.

The two surfers were on the north side of the Kiholo Bay on the Big Island at 5:00 Wednesday.  They were between sets and waiting for waves.  Instead a tiger shark took 43 year old surfer Paul Santos for a ride.

"They mentioned to each other that they hadn't seen any turtles in the last 15 to 20 minutes and within a minute of saying that the shark hit him," said Adam Atwood, Dr. Earl and Doris Bakken Estate General Manager.

Santos was about 200 yards from shore and the shark wasn't letting go.

"He was bit in the wrist or upper forearm and he had to punch the shark repeatedly with his other hand to get the shark to let go. When he started punching the shark it jumped completely out of the water and they said it was between 15 to 16 feet long," said Atwood.

Santos managed to get loose and get to shore at the Dr. Earl Bakken Estate. Dr. Bakken is the man who invented the first wearable external pacemaker.  His chef, who happens to be a pre-med student, came out and made a tourniquet with the surf leash to stop the bleeding.  Another staff member is a nurse and helped stabilize the situation as well.

"His hand was attached by about one tendon and that was it," said Atwood. "Our staff at the Bakken's home have assisted in many of these incidents whether its people in trouble in the water, people that have injured themselves in the bay and last night they did a really good job of perhaps saving this guys life from bleeding to death."

The State Department of Land and Natural Resources posted signs saying a shark was spotted.  State personnel also went up with a helicopter but couldn't spot the tiger shark.  The beach was reopened at 1:30 Thursday afternoon less than 24 hours after the incident.

The attack is a bit unnerving for locals but it's not enough to keep them out of the water.

"We've seen a lot and we know they are there, that's one of the things we say when you're surfing and put your foot in the water you go a number of steps lower on the food chain," said Atwood, who is a surfer himself.

Kaiser Moanalua Medical Center says the Santos is alert and in stable condition tonight. However there is no word if he will lose his arm.

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