Nude swimmer never saw shark that bit him off Big Island
KALAPANA, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Big Island man bitten by a shark Tuesday told Hawaii News Now he never got a look at the shark that attacked him and he was swimming in the nude when the attack happened.
Paul O'Leary of Mountain View is recovering at Hilo Medical Center from the shark bite to his right ankle and he said he didn't panic after realizing he'd been bitten.
O'Leary, 54, was swimming at Kehena Black Sand Beach in Pahoa, a clothing-optional beach where he said he swims three or four times a week.
"It felt like something just kind of sharp just kind of sliced, kind of scratched against my ankle," O'Leary said.
He said he immediately started swimming in from about 100 yards off shore.
"My foot started acting kind of weird and was actually kind of twisting. And when I looked down then I saw the lacerations, I saw the flesh and the skin just hanging out there. I was just kind of 'Someone bit me.'"
O'Leary said he called out to people on the beach who came to help.
"Everyone from the beach came in. About five guys helped me come in. They really kind of showed their Aloha," said O'Leary.
Jeremy Smith was among those who went to his aid.
"I helped to elevate his leg and they had him elevated with a tourniquet around his lower leg," Smith said.
Like many people who swim at Kehena Beach, O'Leary was not wearing any clothes and he decided to put them on as they waited for emergency crews to arrive.
"There's about five people putting pressure on the cut and I told them I wanted to get my clothes on. So we got them and we kind of put it on," O'Leary said.
O'Leary said the shark severed two tendons and nerves in his right ankle. He said he received more than 50 stitches.
He never saw the shark but his orthopedic surgeon and the state Department of Land and Natural Resources confirmed it was a shark based on the size of his wounds.
O'Leary is already fairly familiar with the hospital where he's recuperating, since he's an employee of Hilo Medical Center's laboratory.
The state posted shark bite warning signs Tuesday and Wednesday at Kehena Beach.
This is the eighth shark bite reported in Hawaii this year.
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