A man swimming near the shores of Hawaii has shared a seemingly miraculous story of survival, detailing his fight against a shark that attacked him over the weekend, and the extreme lengths to which he went in order to survive.
Tony Lee was swimming off the coast of Lanikai when he encountered the shark last Saturday. The 44-year-old reportedly felt an unusual tug on his legs, and upon looking backwards, found that both of his lower limbs were in the mouth of a large shark. Lee described the animal as “a big guy,” noting that the predator was attempting to pull him underwater.
Luckily, Lee was wearing goggles at the time of the attack, and he was able to observe what was going on clearly. As ABC13 points out, the swimmer recalls thinking that if he were to continue punching the shark hard enough, the animal would eventually let him go. As the shark attempted to pull him under, Lee quite literally took his escape into his own hands.
— ABC 7 Chicago (@ABC7Chicago) October 23, 2015
Lashing out at the shark, Lee drove his finger into its eyeball. The predator released him, and when Lee came to the surface, he found himself not only treading water, but he was also holding the shark’s eye in his hand.
“He pulled me down one last time, so I just reached out and put my finger in his eye and pulled out his eyeball. And so he let go. So I got to the surface. I was holding his eyeball. So I let it go and was treading water.”
— The New Paper (@thenewpaper) October 14, 2015
Despite the fact that he had escaped the shark, Lee was injured, and he lost one of his feet during the attack. He recalls being able to feel his blood leaving his body during the incident’s aftermath. Lee screamed for help, and Julian Liverton and his son Charlie, passing by in canoes, heard his cries. They were able to reach Lee, paddling him back to shore after Julian used a rash guard to tie a tourniquet around Lee’s injured leg. Despite their efforts, Lee feared that he would die in the water anyway, due to the distance he found himself from the shore.
Hawaii is on alert after 6 shark attacks just this year: http://t.co/brn8qtufSx pic.twitter.com/JBb2J6v02v
— Good Morning America (@GMA) October 19, 2015
Doctors noted that Lee lost an extensive amount of blood, and just a few more minutes without treatment could have been the difference between life and death for him. On Thursday, Lee underwent surgery in an attempt to save his remaining foot. Following the shark attack, Lee’s doctors say that he received an amount of blood equalling two full body transfusions. They point out that Lee’s lifestyle as an active athlete will likely assist in his recovery.
Learned today on morning news: If ever attacked by shark, try to rip out his eye. Saved a man in Hawaii! pic.twitter.com/7WSRt85Pkg
— Tamala Edwards (@TamEdwards6abc) October 23, 2015
Julian and Charlie Liverton noted that their presence at the attack scene was the result of an odd turn of chance. The duo had been attempting to catch waves in their one-man canoes near the Mokuluas when Charlie’s boat developed a crack. They were on their way back to shore when they heard Lee’s cries following his encounter with the shark.
Despite his good health, Lee faces an extensive road to recovery. As KITV points out, Lee feels eager to return to his active lifestyle, yet he admits that it may be some time before he reenters the ocean. Lee admits that when he closes his eyes, he still sometimes sees the shark that attacked him, leaving him too “freaked out” to return to the waters off Hawaii.