Man loses lower leg in North Shore shark attack
NORTH SHORE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A 25-year-old man is in critical condition following a shark attack Friday morning off Oahu's North Shore, Ocean Safety officials said.
The victim was identified as Colin Cook, of Kawailoa.
Witnesses said Cook was pulled to shore by other ocean goers, and was awake and alert when he was taken to the hospital.
The attack happened about 10:30 a.m. in waters off Leftovers Beach Park, a popular surfing spot.
A witness told Hawaii News Now that Cook was apparently sitting on his surfboard with his legs dangling in the water when he was attacked. Bystanders used a surfboard leash as a tourniquet to control the bleeding.
Cook moved to Hawaii from Newport, R.I., three years ago and learned to create custom surfboards from famed North Shore shaper John Carper.
"We taught him how to make surfboards and we ended up semi-adopting him for a long time," said Carper. "He was part of our family for several years."
Cook and Carper both live right in front of Leftovers. Carper ran down to the beach as soon as he heard about the shark bite.
"I kept him, basically held his head, kept having him to look at my face. He kept wanting to pass out," said Carper.
"He'd lost his leg completely," he added.
Cook also apparently suffered injuries to his hand after attempting to swat the shark away.
"It was his left leg that got taken, and then it was his left hand that he lost a couple of his fingertips on," Chris Webster, Cook's cousin, told Hawaii News Now. "So I imagine he was holding the shark off while he was punching it."
Webster got a chance to talk to Cook before he was wheeled into surgery. "I got there and I was all, 'What's up? I heard you were fighting with a shark.' And he started laughing and smiling. He's all, 'Yeah, I got a couple good cracks on him.' So he was in good spirits."
Following the attack, lifeguards posted warning signs and urged people to stay out of the water. Emergency Services spokeswoman Shayne Enright said the area will be re-assessed Saturday to determine if the warning signs will be posted again.
Enright said the shark was reported to be 10- to 12-feet-long.
This is the fifth shark attack in Hawaii so far this year, but the first off Oahu since 2013. In 2014, there were six shark attacks statewide.
From January to September, there were two shark attacks off Maui and two off the Big Island.
The other incidents were:
- On April 29, a 65-year-old woman was killed while snorkeling off Maui's Ahihi Bay. The woman was in 20- to 35-foot-deep waters, and was about 200 yards offshore.
- On March 18, a 60-year-old man suffered cuts to his forearm, left arm and thigh while standing in 4-foot-deep water off Hapuna Beach on the Big Island. Authorities said the man was bit by a 8- to 10-foot-long tiger shark.
- On Jan. 27, a 20-year-old Maui man was bit by a shark he had caught while fishing in Lahaina.
In all of the earlier four shark attacks this year, the victims were bit while in cloudy waters.
Carper said Cook was fortunate to have a lot of other surfers at the beach with him. "There was a real capable group of surfers that came in," he said. "Without them Colin wouldn't have made it. There's no question he wouldn't have made it."
Then Carper became emotional.
"It's kinda heavy, man."
A GoFundMe page has been set up for Colin to alleviate some of the medical costs and help pay for a new prosthetic leg. For more information, or if you would like to donate, click here.
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