Kawika Matsu, 37, from Hawaii, was paddle boarding about 90 metres from shore in English Bay on Ascension Island in the Atlantic Ocean when what he says was a 12-14 foot great white shark knocked him off his board and bit him several times. He suffered severe injuries to his right shoulder, torso and leg.
Bleeding profusely, he managed to get back on the board and wait to be rescued. The island rescue service brought him ashore and he was taken to the local hospital.
His mother was quoted as saying: “As he was trying to get back on the board, that’s when [the shark] came back and got him on the right buttocks and chomped a big portion off and again, a little bit of the thigh.”
He spent several days in the island hospital, before being flown to Florida, United States for further treatment.
His mother said members of the tiny island community donated blood to save Kawika, but, because of the its remote location, it took three days to fly him to a mainland hospital.
His older brother was quoted as saying: “My brother was a strong swimmer. We grew up in Hawaii and are watermen – second generation surfers and very comfortable in the water. He was well aware of the amount of sharks there.”
Daniel Schempp, commander of the US Air Force unit on Ascension was quoted as saying: “He sustained critical bite wounds to his torso and is lucky to be alive, only kept so by the heroics of the small US and UK medical teams on the island, and because of the donated blood supplies of volunteers.”
- A GoFundMe page has been set up to help pay his medical bills.
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