POSTED: 3:15 p.m. HST, Jun 19, 2013
LAST UPDATED: 11:05 p.m. HST, Jun 19, 2013
KAILUA-KONA » Shark attack victim James Kerrigan says he never felt the bite that damaged his leg.
“I just felt something pulling on me from the back, and it turned out to be a shark,” he said.
Kerrigan, a Kailua-Kona resident, was attacked just before 1 p.m. Tuesday at Mahaiula Beach at Kekaha Kai State Park along the Kona Coast near the airport.
Kerrigan and his fiance, who arrived two weeks earlier, maintained their cool and swam about 120 feet to shore where other beachgoers helped stop the bleeding.
He said his doctor told him a good-sized chunk was taken out of his calf.
Kerrigan was taken by helicopter to Kona Community Hospital, but was conscious and responsive after the attack, officials said Tuesday.
Hawaii County Fire Department Battalion Chief Gerald Kosaki said a 14-foot tiger shark was later spotted about 20 yards from the shore. He said beachgoers were told to get out of the water and state officials closed the beach.
The beach will remain closed overnight after authorities spotted eight reef sharks.
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources said today that fire officials will reassess Mahaiula Bay Thursday morning.
Officials say the sharks were 5 feet to 6 feet long.