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Shark attack victim's surfboard may have helped save leg

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 3:43 p.m. HST, Jul 30, 2013

A 19-year-old Kaneohe man is recovering at a hospital after he was attacked by what was believed to be a tiger shark at White Plains Beach on the Leeward Coast. 

Kiowa Gatewood has been upgraded to fair condition after he underwent emergency surgery on his left leg Monday following the attack. Gatewood was surfing at White Plains when a 9 to 12-foot shark bit his left leg at about 2 p.m.

Gatewood’s grandmother, Eleanor Hee, said his surfboard saved him. There were teeth marks from the shark on the bottom of his board, she said. The shark bite caused injuries from his knee to his shin. Hee said he would’ve lost his leg had it not been for his surfboard.

The shark released him after Gatewood punched its nose. He paddled to shore and crawled on the sand while a friend alerted a lifeguard. Paramedics transported Gatewood to a trauma hospital in serious condition.

Officials reopened White Plains and Nimitz Beach at 2 p.m. today after they closed the two sites following the attack. The Honolulu Fire Department conducted a helicopter flyover of the area. No shark sightings were reported, according to Tom Clements of the Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs. 

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