(NEW YORK) — A woman bitten by a shark off the coast of Hawaii considers herself blessed that she and her friend weren’t seriously injured.
McKenzie Clark and Brian Wargo were surfing off Halaula Lighthouse in North Kohala on Friday when she felt a bump in the water.
“At that point, his head was on my board and his jaws were chomping down,” said Clark.
Wargo said he heard Clark screaming and saw her lifted out of the water by the shark, which estimated to be about 12 feet long.
“I saw the dorsal fin and I saw the tail, kicking really hard, and she was screaming,” he said. “I could tell right away it was a large shark.”
Wargo said he doesn’t remember thinking about what to do — but just started paddling over to Clark to rescue his friend.
“She was being lifted out of the water, and screaming — she was being carried on the nose of the shark. I got closer — but then the shark turned and bit her again on her left hand,” he said. “I saw her grab her hand and rip it out of the shark’s mouth, then she fell off the back of her board.”
The shark bit her hand and her board, then started swimming out to sea with it, but Clark was attached to it with a leash, Wargo said.
“She couldn’t get the leash off her foot,” he said. “I saw the shark coming at her again, I grabbed the dorsal of the shark. I started kicking at the shark and using my board — I started punching the shark. I felt like I was going to break my hand — but the shark shuddered, and then headed out to sea.”
Wargo said it was a tense drive to the hospital — 25 miles from the beach — to get help for Clark, who kept her hand wrapped in her wetsuit and a towel.
“I called 911 and let them know we had a shark bite victim,” he said. “She was in shock, but she was tough about the whole thing and handled it like a champ.”
Clark was treated and released from North Hawaii Community Hospital.
“I don’t think that this minor of an injury happens very often with this situation,” said Clark. “Right now, I just feel really, really blessed and thankful that everyone’s okay.”
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