Family and friends of the man who was bit by a shark while surfing on Oahu’s North Shore said Saturday he lost most of his leg in the attack.
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports relatives identified the victim as Colin Cook, 25, and confirmed doctors amputated most of his left leg. His hands were injured when he punched the shark before it swam away.
Chris Webster, Cook’s cousin, said Cook swam to another surfer who paddled him to shore. He told KHON-TV its heartbreaking that doctors had to amputate above the knee, but Cook is in good spirits.
Cook’s friend John Harper helped him get out of the water. He said the Rhode Island native is a regular at the popular surf spot where the shark bit him.
Honolulu Services Department Spokeswoman Shayne Enright said Friday a kayaker also helped Cook get back to shore. Once on the shore, people put the man on a surf or paddle board and used a leash as a tourniquet on his badly injured leg.
Enright said a 911 call was received at 10:25 a.m. and the victim was already on the beach when rescue crews arrived.
Witnesses told officials the shark was either a tiger or Galapagos about 10-12 feet long, but officials couldn’t confirm the species or size. A fire department helicopter spotted a shark in nearby waters about two hours after the attack. They estimated it was about 8 feet long, but couldn't confirm it was the same shark that bit the surfer.
Lifeguards in the area were warning visitors to stay out of the ocean and signs have been posted along the beach. Officials say they will reassess the situation on Saturday and determine if it is safe for people to enter the water.
Braxton Rocha, who was attacked and severely injured by a 13-foot tiger shark off the north coast of the Big Island in September, saw the news of Friday's attack and said it brought him back to what he went through.
"I'm speechless right now," he said. "I just want to wish him a speedy recovery, and hope he gets back into the water soon. I hope what happened doesn't make him feel any differently towards sharks or the ocean."
Rocha required over 100 staples to close the wounds he suffered when the shark bit him while spearfishing. He said he would like to visit Friday's victim to help him in any way he can.
This is the fifth shark attack in Hawaii this year. One attack, which occurred on Maui in April, was fatal. All bites this year have happened in turbid or murky water.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.