HONOLULU – A 19-year-old Mililani man is recovering at Queen's Medical Center after being impaled by what he says was a barracuda.
Tonga "Piu" Loumoli was night diving off Kahana Bay (search) near Kaaawa in Windward Oahu (search) late Thursday night when a four-foot-long fish charged into his stomach. The fish wiggled loose, but left behind a six-inch-long gash and a tooth.
A fishing buddy put Loumoli in a small dinghy and dragged him nearly a mile to shore and flagged down a police officer who called for help.
Marine expert Craig Thomas (search) said he has never heard of a barracuda charging into a swimmer. He said it seems more likely that Loumoli was impaled by a needlefish.
But Loumoli, who has been night diving since his freshman year in high school, is adamant that he was attacked by a barracuda.
His fishing companion, Braven Rivera, said he saw the fish clearly and agreed it was a barracuda. The tooth could solve the mystery, Thomas said.
Loumoli was reported in serious condition in the hospital's intensive care unit where he was being treated for a serious liver injury. He is on a machine to help his breathing and cannot talk.
But he scribbled a note to his mother and sister saying, "I'm going to quit diving."