NORTH KOHALA, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - An aggressive shark bit a Big Island woman's left hand while she was surfing near Halaula Lighthouse in North Kohala. Kailua-Kona resident McKenzie Clark, 34, and her friend, Brian Wargo, were about 150 yards offshore catching waves just before 11:15 a.m. on Friday. Wargo told Hawaii News Now that he missed a wave and then turned around when he heard Clark screaming.
"She is lifted up out of the water on top of her board and being pushed out to sea," said Wargo.
"I was just scared. I didn't know what to do. The first time it bumped me I thought, 'What's happening? Did I hit a rock?' I was kind of in disbelief. It just happened so fast," Clark said.
A 12-foot tiger shark lunged at Clark three times, according to Wargo.
"The shark comes back, grabs her board and her hand, and rips her off the board and she rips her hand out of the shark's mouth and the shark is pulling her board out to sea with her getting dragged by her leash leg," said Wargo.
According to Wargo, he grabbed the shark's dorsal fin once the animal let go of the board and started going after Clark again.
"I just started punching the shark and I punched it probably five times," Wargo said. "When I hit it that fifth time, it turned away from her and started going out to sea."
The pair paddled in and drove to North Kohala Community Hospital where Clark received several stitches on her two injured fingers.
"I'll probably have to fly to Oahu and get a skin graft on one of the fingers. They're pretty mangled, but I didn't lose them. I still have them all intact," said Clark.
The Department of Land and Natural Resources closed the beach and posted shark warning signs.