Teenage surfer recovering after Big Island shark attack

Published: Aug. 18, 2013 at 5:57 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 19, 2013 at 5:05 PM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn
Jimmy Napeahi, 16 (Courtesy Instagram / Jordan Anast Photography)
Jimmy Napeahi, 16 (Courtesy Instagram / Jordan Anast Photography)
(Courtesy Napeahi's Instagram Account)
(Courtesy Napeahi's Instagram Account)

PUNA, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - A 16-year-old surfer is recovering and in stable condition on Monday after being bitten by a shark in waters off Puna on the Big Island Sunday afternoon, according to the victim's family members.

Family members on Sunday identified the teenage victim as Jimmy "Ulu Boy" Napeahi.

According to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, Napeahi was surfing in an area known as "Shacks" near the Pohoiki Boat Ramp at around 2 p.m. when he was bitten on both legs by the shark. Fire department officials say the teen reported being bit from behind by a "gray colored shark, about 8-feet long."

"He was coming down the wave and the shark came from the side and took him out by the leg," said Isaac Belisario, who witnessed the attack. "I was shaking. I was so close to the shark attack, I don't know... It was too much."

After he was reported bitten, at least four people nearby rushed in to help, witnesses said. One rescuer reported using his surf leash as a tourniquet to help stop the bleeding.

The boy was taken to the Pahoa fire station, where he was then airlifted to Hilo Medical Center.

His uncle said late Sunday that he was in good condition with lacerations to his legs.

Napeahi's bio on the Puna Surf Team website says he began surfing when he was four, and dreams of being a pro surfer. On Sunday evening, the following was posted on the Facebook page believed to belong to Napeahi:

"God works in mysterious ways!! Only the strong survive!! To live is to be happy and I know I will b strong and I know I will live happily love everyone who loves me!!! I WILL SURF AGAIN MARK MY WORD I WILL!!!"

After the attack, officials closed beaches and posted shark warning signs near Pohoiki and north of Pohoiki to a surf spot known as "Shacks."

If no sharks are spotted by morning, officials said the warning signs will come down and the beaches could be reopened by noon Monday.

Follow Ben Gutierrez:    

Copyright 2013 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.