2000-08-16 Visiting French windsurfer attacked by shark
2000-08-17 Shark attack victim's condition improves
2000-08-18 Shark-bite victim describes circumstances of attack

Visiting French windsurfer attacked by shark

By TIMOTHY HURLEY Staff Writer 2000-08-16

KAHULUI -- A 53-year-old French windsurfer was in stable condition Tuesday after his left leg was severely bitten by a shark in waters off Kanaha Beach Park.

Jean Goenvec was pulled from the water by a lifeguard at 12:30 p.m. and taken by ambulance to Maui Memorial Medical Center, where he was still undergoing surgery as of 8 p.m. A hospital spokeswoman said he was in critical condition.

Following the attack, lifeguards cleared the water of about 75 to 100 people and shut down the beaches at Kanaha and neighboring Baldwin Beach Park. Shark warning signs were posted. Kanaha was expected to remain closed today, officials said.

The attack occurred at about three-quarters of a mile offshore in the open water beyond the reef. Goenvec told authorities that he was sitting on his board, legs dangling, trying to change the position of his rig for better wind.

The man later described the shark as being 12- to 15-feet long.

With his wife and friends on the beach unaware of his condition, Goenvec sat on his board bleeding and had fashioned a makeshift tourniquet by wrapping a cord from his rig around his leg.

After about a half hour, Goenvec was finally able to get the attention of another windsurfer, who sailed to shore for help.

Water safety officer Joseph Perez responded in a rescue personal water craft, and the windsurfer sailed out with him to help if needed.

When he arrived, Perez asked the downed windsurfer if he had been bitten by a shark.

``He talked some foreign words and then he lifted up his leg, and there was a chunk missing. I just pulled him up on the sled and we headed back in here,'' Perez said.

The lifeguard said the victim was a cool customer under difficult conditions.

``He was very much in control, very much in control'' Perez said. ``Fortunately the shark wasn't around so we could deal with the situation easier.''

Perez said people on the beach helped him carry the victim up on shore and tend to him until paramedics arrived. He said they elevated the foot, worked to control the bleeding and administered oxygen to treat for shock.

Paramedic Chris Rose described the wound as ``substantial,'' stretching from knee to ankle, with assorted teeth marks on the foot and calf.

``It looked more like a tear than a (bite),'' he said.

Rose said Goenvec had lost so much blood, the wound was barely bleeding -- an alarming sign. The man was calm and conscious but extremely pale and in obvious shock.

``Another half hour and he might have been dead,'' he said.

A friend of the windsurfer, Barlaud Nichile, said Goenvec's wife, plus herself and her own husband, were together on the beach unaware of the man's plight.

By the time they saw Goenvec, she said, bandages covered the wounds, and he remained tired and silent on the ambulance ride to the Maui Memorial Emergency Room.

``He lost a lot of blood,'' she said. ``It was very painful for him.''

Central Maui District Water Safety Capt. Dave Emerson described both the windsurfer who went for help -- a pilot from Texas -- and lifeguard Perez as heroes.

``And the paramedics were so fast, it was incredible,'' he said.

Perez has been a lifeguard for nine years, seven of those at Kanaha Beach Park. He said it was the first shark attack he has had to respond to.

Eleven-year-old windsurfer Melia Kilbourn of Kula said she was on the water when she saw the commotion on the beach.

``I was hoping it wasn't anything like a shark -- but it was,'' she said. ``It's like, `Do I want to go out anymore?'''

Nick Warmuth of Kihei said the victim looked surprisingly calm while authorities treated him. ``He probably screamed enough on the water,'' he said.

Steve Hersh of Pukalani was folding up his gear within an hour of the attack. ``I was just ready to go in the water when they started kicking everyone out,'' he said.

Hersh said he's seen plenty of sharks at Kanaha over the years, but he never felt threatened.

``It's odd,'' he said. ``Nobody can remember a windsurfer getting bit. I assumed they always left windsurfers alone. I guess I'll have to revise that one.''

Thwarted from going into the water on the last day of his summer vacation, Jay Romais of Santa Barbara, Calif., was washing down his windsurfing board at nearly 3 p.m. He said he was disappointed but, having been on Maui here since June 17, ``I had more than my fair share'' of windsurfing.

The Ventura, Calif., fireman said he has spent his summers windsurfing on Maui since 1982.

``It's the first time I've ever seen this park closed,'' he said.

Ever seen a shark before?

``I don't know if it was a shark, but one time I saw a giant fish about 8- to 10-feet-long,'' Romais said. ``I just looked the other way and said don't fall and keep going.''

Staff Photographer Matthew Thayer contributed to this report.

 

Shark attack victim's condition improves

By TIMOTHY HURLEY 2000-08-17

Staff Writer

WAILUKU -- A 53-year-old windsurfer from France improved to a ``guarded'' condition Wednesday following lengthy surgery to piece together a leg mauled by a shark in the ocean off Kanaha Beach Park.

Jean Goenvec, who had visited Maui to windsurf in the past, endured eight hours of surgery on his left leg at Maui Memorial Medical Center Tuesday evening after being rescued from the ocean at 12:30 p.m. that day.

Following the attack, lifeguards cleared the water and shut down the beaches at Kanaha and neighboring Baldwin Beach Park, and posted shark warning signs. Kanaha was also closed Wednesday and expected to reopen today.

John Silberstein, the county's ocean safety officer supervisor, said lifeguards in rescue personal watercraft patrolled a 2-mile ocean radius around Kanaha.

``There were no sightings,'' he said. ``It was clear and calm.''

Silberstein said the public was cooperative and supportive throughout the closure, though some divers had to be escorted from the water Wednesday.

The attack occurred Tuesday some three-quarters of a mile offshore in the open water beyond the reef. Goenvec told authorities he was sitting on his board, legs dangling, when a shark 12- to 15-feet long bit him.

The victim, who fashioned a makeshift tourniquet by wrapping a cord from his rig around his leg, remained with his board for a half hour before another windsurfer noticed his condition and summoned a lifeguard for the rescue.

Randy Honebrink, state Shark Task Force spokesman, said officials believe it is entirely possible that the animal that attacked Goenvec was a tiger shark, based on behavior and the victim's description.

Honebrink, who is also the state Department of Land and Natural Resources education coordinator, said it is highly unlikely this was the same shark that caused the closure of D.T. Fleming Beach Park last weekend, though it's not impossible.

The Shark Task Force met last in January and, armed with information from the latest research, decided the state would no longer participate in shark hunts following such attacks, Honebrink said.

``It doesn't make sense biologically,'' he said, noting that the last state-sanctioned hunt was in 1993. ``(A hunt) might make people feel better, but it wouldn't make a difference. It's so unlikely that a shark would continue to be in the area.''

Honebrink said Tuesday's incident should be a wake-up call to remind people of the dangers that exist in Hawaii waters.

``There are sharks out there,'' he said. ``Unfortunately, he got bit, but that's the risk one takes. Remember, it happened way offshore. Obviously there are sharks out there.''

It is interesting, he added, that the shark bit the windsurfer only once. The animal could have come back for more but didn't, which is consistent with many other shark attacks. Some scientists believe tiger sharks don't like the taste of humans and simply mistake people for creatures that are normally on its diet, including seals and turtles.

The employees at Neil Pryde Maui in Kahului were surprised and disappointed to hear that Goenvec, a regular customer, had been the shark-attack victim people had been talking about all day, said Manager Kevin Ozee.

``It floored us,'' he said. ``We feel so bad for the guy. He was in the shop earlier in the day.''

Ozee said the shop sent him flowers, wished him the best and offered free rental, figuring he would have plenty of medical bills to worry about.

It was a Neil Pryde board that Goenvec was using on Tuesday. Ozee said Gounvec's best friend returned the board that afternoon and told shop employees what had happened.

Goenvec was a nice guy who had been on customer in the past, he said.

``I have a feeling the guy is going to come back from this and go windsurfing again. He seems like that kind of guy.''

Ozee added that business didn't seem to be affected by news of the shark attack, with customers taking their rigs to sail off Spreckelsville, Hookipa and Kihei.

 

Shark-bite victim describes circumstances of attack

By TIMOTHY HURLEY Staff Writer 2000-08-18

WAILUKU -- Having missed his jibe and fallen into the ocean off Kanaha Beach Park, windsurfer Jean Goenvec was an easy target for the shark he saw 30 yards away.

It was heading straight for him.

Alarmed, the visitor from Marseille, France, tried to pull himself up onto his board, but it was too late. The shark grabbed his leg with its powerful jaws and shook its head.

Finally, the animal let go and swam away, leaving the man bleeding profusely.

This account was offered Thursday afternoon -- two days after the attack -- by the victim, who remained at Maui Memorial Medical Center in guarded condition.

According to his hand-written statement, Goenvec saw the upper front of the shark's head and a part of its back as it munched on his leg just below the knee.

``The parts of the shark I could see were dark blue or black and I estimated its size (at) 12 to 15 feet,'' he wrote.

Immediately after the attack, which happened shortly before noon, Goenvec said he sat on his board and tried to stop the bleeding by making a compression point on his leg.

Seeing no other windsurfers in the vicinity, ``. . . I decided to make a tourniquet with my footmast rope. It seemed to me that this solution was giving me a better chance of survival . . .''

Later, he saw five windsurfers sailing 300 to 600 feet leeward, but they didn't see his gestures for help nor hear his calls. Meanwhile, the wind kept pushing him farther out to sea.

``Finally, one half hour after the shark attack, I saw a windsurfer coming towards me.''

The rescue that followed was ``extremely quick and efficient.''

Goenvec said he is grateful to and impressed by the professionalism of John Sincerbeaux -- the windsurfer who found him and sailed for help -- and Joseph Perez -- the lifeguard who brought him to shore on his rescue ski -- as well as the paramedics, who treated him on the beach and took him to the hospital.

``. . . I give a big thank you to these persons who saved my life.''

Goenvec also thanked the staff of Maui Memorial, and especially surgeon Sergio Lugo, who did ``their utmost to save my leg.'' Lugo performed eight hours of surgery Tuesday night.

Goenvec said his portable global positioning system (GPS) receiver was able to determine exactly where the attack occurred. It was seven-tenths of a mile from the shore of Kanaha.

In the statement, Goenvec said that he had been windsurfing with his wife at 11:50 a.m. when she decided to return to the beach to rig a smaller sail.

Shortly after that, he missed a jibe and fell into the sea.

Goenvec's wife and a pair of friends were onshore, unaware of the attack, when they saw the man being treated on the beach.