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German tourist dies a week after being bitten by shark off Maui

    Jana Lutteropp
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The 20-year-old woman who lost her right arm in a shark attack while snorkeling off Maui last week died today, her family announced.

Jana Lutteropp, a visitor from Germany, had been on life support at Maui Memorial Medical Center after she was bitten 50 yards offshore in an area known as White Rock in Makena last Wednesday.

In a statement released by the hospital, Lutteropp’s mother, Jutta Lutteropp, and sister, Julia Broeske, said, “Jana fought hard to stay alive. However, we are sad to say that she lost her fight today. Jana was a very beautiful, strong, young woman who was always laughing, and we will forever remember her that way.

“We appreciate all the support from the Maui community, as well as the prayers and thoughts from around the world and in Germany.

“We especially want to thank the wonderful caregivers and everyone at Maui Memorial Medical Center.”

The family requested that donations be made to the Maui Memorial Medical Center Foundation in her memory. 

According to the British newspaper Daily Mail, Lutteropp is originally from Zierenberg north of Kassel in western Germany. She was a member of the town’s carnival troupe called Grace Berger Dance Guard and had left Germany last summer to work as an au pair in Seattle, Washington.

She was in Hawaii for a three-week vacation and was planning to return to Germany Sept. 11, according to her personal blog as well as a website that serves the region where her town is located.

On her blog, Lutteropp wrote about her experiences working as an au pair for an American family living in Issaquah – a suburb of Seattle. She had spent a year caring for her host family’s three boys – 4-year-old twins and their 5-year-old brother. Her last day on the job was Aug. 12.   

Lutteropp was snorkeling 50 yards off Palauea Beach in Makena when the shark attack occurred at about 4:45 p.m. last Wednesday.

There have been eight shark attacks in Hawaii this year, including three on Maui, according to a state database. There were 11 shark attacks in the state in 2012. The last fatal shark attack occurred April 7, 2004, at the Kahana shore in West Maui, when a surfer was helped out of the water but died on shore despite rescue efforts by beachgoers, police and paramedics.

In Lutteropp’s case, a high school teacher visiting from California jumped into the water after hearing her screaming and seeing blood in the surf. In news reports, Rick Moore, 57, of Laguna Niguel, Calif. said Lutteropp went in and out of consciousness and kept repeating that she was going to die.

After the attack, Moore’s friend Nicholas Grisaffi stood in neck-high water and took Lutteropp from Moore, carrying her limp body out of the water. Grisaffi told the Associated Press today that they’ve been praying for her.

“I was really hoping it would be a miracle and she would pull through,” said the 61-year-old Moore of Laguna Beach, Calif.

Grisaffi said he’s been replaying the ordeal in his mind. “Rick risked his life,” Grisaffi said. “Did I do enough? Should I have grabbed my fins and swam out with him?”

State officials announced yesterday that a state-funded study to look at tiger shark movements around Maui is scheduled to begin next month. The $186,000 two-year study will examine the behavior of tiger sharks on Maui compared with the other main Hawaiian Islands.

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