Surfer Loses Leg Following Shark Attack Off Hawaii’s North Shore

Hawaiian authorities have reported the fifth shark attack to take place this year along the island chain’s coast, as a 25-year-old surfer lost his leg while in the ocean off Oahu’s north shore.

The attack was reported around 10:25 a.m. on Friday morning, according to KHON. Family and friends of the victim identified him as Colin Cook, a native of Oahu. The attack took place near a popular surf spot known as Leftovers, and Cook was reportedly sitting on his board when it transpired. He observed a number of fish jumping from the water while waiting for a wave, and it was at that juncture that the shark struck him from below.

Cook fought back against the shark, punching it several times and leaving his hand covered in abrasions. The shark eventually swam off, and Cook swam to another nearby surfer, who pulled the injured man onto his surfboard and paddled him to shore.

The shark had taken Cook’s left leg below the knee, and once his fellow surfers brought him ashore, beachgoers, including Drew Zarba, used a surfboard leash to tie a tourniquet on Cook’s thigh and stem the bleeding. A group of men and women on the beach used a surfboard to carry Cook to the highway, where first responders and EMS were able to take over his treatment. They rushed Cook to Queen’s Medical Center in critical condition, according to the Washington Post, where doctors were forced to amputate his left leg above the knee.

According to Zarba, Cook never lost consciousness following the shark attack. Even though he was clearly in shock, Zarba said that the surfer retained a strong pulse and “was breathing the whole time.” John Carper recalled that he held Cook’s head in an attempt to get his friend to focus. According to him, Cook’s eyes kept rolling back and he “just looked like he was going.”

Cook remains in good spirits following his surgery, and was reportedly “joking around” before the operation. He is now in stable condition, and has spoken with his father. While Cook’s family and friends praised the doctors and bystanders who worked to save his life, EMS asserts that it was the quick thinking of beachgoers which helped Cook survive his ordeal.

Warning signs were posted following the attack, and lifeguards cautioned beachgoers to avoid entering the water. Though witnesses to the attack suggested that the shark responsible for the incident was between 10- and 12-feet-long, authorities have yet to report which species was involved. Ocean Safety officials noted that there was another shark sighting following Friday’s attack, though it is unclear whether the animal was the same one Cook encountered.

Hawaii is home to a number of shark species, including a large population of tiger sharks, which have been known to attack swimmers and surfers, particularly in murky water. Oddly, the survivor of another shark attack was on the beach Friday filming a documentary about his own experience. Mike Coots was attacked by a shark while bodyboarding off Kauai’s west side in 1997, yet he doesn’t blame the shark for the incident. Now, he actively works to protect Hawaii’s sharks from overfishing and poaching.

Hawaii has seen five shark attacks this year, including Cook’s incident, compared to six such events last year. Several of those attacks have been attributed to the island chain’s local population of tiger sharks, and at least one of them proved to be fatal.

[Photo by Albert Kok — Own Work via Wikimedia Commons | Cropped and Resized | CC BY-SA 3.0]