HONOLULU (KHON2) — The good Samaritan who helped a Waikoloa man in his 60s, who was bitten by a shark on the Big Island on March 19, talks about the incident. And she said it happened in almost exactly the same spot another swimmer was bitten just three months ago.
Chelsey Hartzell was working aboard a catamaran in Anaehoomalu Bay Sunday around 12:30 p.m., waiting for the crew to get back with supplies, when she heard a commotion nearby.
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“I saw someone swimming quickly towards the catamaran, he was yelling for help,” said Hartzell.
She said she saw him swimming near the buoy about 200 yards offshore.
“He was coming back around when it hit him, and it was less than 100 yards from our boat, it was very close,” Hartzell explained. “I definitely saw all the blood in the water and the thrashing and him quickly trying to get away.”
Once he reached the catamaran, she helped him aboard.
According to Hartzell, the man’s hand was torn up and the back of his left calf and thigh were also shredded.
“I grabbed my — my beach towel and came over and just applied pressure to the wounds, elevated them,” said HartzellAnd there actually were two other swimmers that were in the water that quickly came over to get out of the water.”
When they were all safely onboard, she called for help.
Hartzell said she was thankful rescue responded quickly.
While the incident was shocking, she added that she’s not surprised someone was bitten there.
“I believe this has happened more than once in the same exact spot,” she explained. “It’s kind of a known thing at this point.”
Hawaii’s Division of Aquatic Resources keeps detailed records of shark incidents in the state dating back to June 1995.
According to their records, this not the first time that a shark attacked someone at Anaehoomalu Bay.
In fact, DAR’s records show this is the fourth time a shark bit someone there since 2019.
The most recent incident occurred just three months ago.
Darwin Okinaka, Hawaii Assistant Fire Chief of Emergency Operations, said there are frequent shark sightings on the West side of the Big Island.
“We’ve had reports at various locations, usually along the leeward coastlines, Waikoloa, down from Kawaihae, actually down to Kona,” Okinaka explained.
Okinaka said it’s impossible to avoid sharks completely if you swim or dive in the ocean because that’s their home.
But he had one small bit of advice.
“Just be safe,” he said. “And if you’re in the water, always have a buddy. At least you know, you can have someone to look out for you.”
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There is no guaranteed way to avoid getting bitten by a shark, but experts have said it’s best to avoid swimming in murky water and at dawn or dusk.