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Nanakuli boy describes how he survived shark attack

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    Nine-year-old shark bite victim Ray Senensi III

A 5- to 6-foot gray-and-white shark leaped out of the water off of Makaha Wednesday, grabbed 10-year-old Raymond "Ray Ray" Senensi III in its jaws and pulled the Nanakuli boy off of his boogie board and underneath the choppy waves, Raymond said at a Queen’s Medical Center press conference today. 

Just as his mother taught him, Raymond kicked the shark with his left leg until it let go of his right leg. 

Raymond, who was still leashed to his board, was then pulled back to the surface where he screamed, "Help me, please help me. I got a bite." 

"It just jumped out and grabbed me," Raymond told reporters. 

Raymond, a fourth-grader at Nanaikapono Elementary School in Nanakuli, is scheduled to be released from Queen’s today and is expected to make a full recovery, said his mother, Shirita Moreno. 

On Friday, mom and son plan to return to Makaha Beach Park to present lei to the lifeguards who treated him on shore. 

Today Moreno showed reporters hospital photos that revealed a nasty tear to Raymond’s upper right thigh and bite marks that ran all the way to his ankle. She had no idea how many stitches were required to sew up the wounds. 

"My son really did come out blessed," Moreno later told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. "I say he had an angel. His whole leg could have been gone. He could have been gone." 

Raymond had been boogie boarding with some of his seven siblings and two calabash cousins. But when he was bitten, Raymond was by himself about 50 to 60 yards off shore. 

Asked if he ever planned to go back into the water at his favorite boogie boarding site, Raymond just shook his head "no."

Earlier in the day, authorities confirmed that the boy was a bitten by a shark and said he was one of Hawaii’s youngest shark victims. The attack off Makaha was the first confirmed for the area in 46 years.

At a press conference this morning, state Division of Aquatic Resources administrator Bruce Anderson said shark experts in Florida will be reviewing photos of the boy’s leg, but that there is little doubt that a shark of some type bit the boy.

"It was obviously a bite of a large animal," Anderson said. "It wasn’t a barracuda. It wasn’t an eel. It was something like a shark."

State and city officials are reviewing protocols following the seventh shark attack in Hawaiian waters this year.

Shark warning signs along Makaha beaches remained up this afternoon as a precaution after lifeguards saw a 10-foot shark feeding on something about 30 yards west of Wednesday’s incident, said Shayne Enright, an Emergency Services Department spokeswoman.

North shore signs came down after no sharks were spotted there.

Anderson described Wednesday’s water conditions as murky with high swells.


Correction: Raymond "Ray Ray" Senensi III lives in Nanakuli. An earlier version of this story and the headline said he was from Waianae.

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