Jimmy “Ulu Boi” Napeahi survives shark attack
Jimmy “Ulu Boi” Napeahi: Tougher than Sharks
A 16-year old Hawaiian surfer was bit across both legs by a shark, at Pohoiki, Big Island. He is recovering well and will be surfing again.
Jimmy “Ulu Boi” Napeahi, a member of the Puna Surf Team, suffered multiple lacerations and puncture wounds to his lower extremities. He was immediately treated by lifeguards and then air lifted to Hilo Medical Center.
Early reports indicate a gray-colored shark, about 8 feet long. A second rescue helicopter surveyed the water from the air in the area of the attack, but did not report any sign of a shark.
Napeahi was surfing with friends at “Shacks”, about 1:30pm, when he was suddenly pulled underwater. The young wave rider shouted that he’d been hit by a shark and, seconds later, his friends grabbed him and brought him in. One rescuer used his surf leash as a tourniquet to help stop the bleeding.
“Ulu Boi” was preparing to compete in a North Shore surfing competition, after securing a fourth place at the 29th Annual Big Island Pro-Am.
His mother was beckoning him to get out of the water, she said.
Claire Napeahi spoke to reporters from the hospital by telephone. She reported;
As she waved for him to come back to shore, Jimmy shouted to her, “‘One more wave, one more wave,’ and that’s when it happened,” she said.
His mother recounted seeing the boy’s friends converge around him in the water, and from shore she and other onlookers “could see the shark going through the wave,” apparently after it had struck. His friends pulled the bleeding teenager onto his surf board and quickly paddled him to shore.
“I didn’t know it was him, but then everyone else stood up, and he didn’t,” Claire Napeahi said. “I didn’t want it to be him.”
Jimmy was flown by helicopter to Hilo Medical Center, where he was listed in satisfactory condition on Sunday night, said William Aila, chairman of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.
He is expected to recover fully, his mother said. “He’ll be able to surf again after he heals,” she said. “He’s going to recover and he’s going to go back. … Absolutely, it’s been his passion his whole life. He’s been surfing since he was four.”
Asked how she felt about sharks after the attack on her son, the boy’s mother said, “It’s their territory. It’s their home. We’ve got to share the ocean with them.”
Big Island goofyfoot Jimmy “Ulu Boy” Napeahi was surfing at around 2 p.m. on Sunday afternoon when he was bitten on both legs by what he estimates to be an eight-foot tiger shark.
“I duckdove a wave and went to sit on the board and the the shark hit me from the bottom,” the 16-year-old said. “Hit me so hard, and then when I went underwater, it started gnawing on me.”
He did what anyone would hope they’d do in that situation: he started swinging. “I was punching it in the gills to get off me,” he said. “Finally, it swam straight down with part of my leash and swam away.”
Napeahi was underwater battling the thrashing shark for about 30 seconds, and made his way to the beach within two minutes. “I had so much adrenaline, I went straight up onto the rocks with my board,” he said. “When I hit the beach, i grabbed the other part of my leash and wrapped it around my leg to stop the bleeding.”
It took 45 minutes for an ambulance to arrive, and then he was airlifted to Hilo hospital and went straight into surgery, sewing up both his legs, his hips, calves and feet. “After 180 stitches, they lost track,” he said.
Doctors told Napeahi that’d take about two months to heal, and then another five months of therapy and rehab before he can surf again. And surf again he will. Same spot, too. “It’s not going to affect me,” he said. “I’m not scared of it. I love surfing. I need to surf.”
Our Prayers and Aloha go out to ulu and his Ohana for a speedy recovery!