A Haleiwa man received a prestigious honor Friday for a very heroic act.
Keoni Bowthorpe was awarded the Carnegie Medal in the Governor’s Ceremonial Room.
He is one of 25 Carnegie Medal recipients recognized for outstanding civilian heroism. The medal is given in the United States and Canada to those who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree while saving or attempting to save the lives of others.
In October 2015, Bowthorpe rescued surfer Colin Cook when he was attacked by a shark off Oahu’s North Shore.
Bowthorpe saw the whole thing happen, and even used his paddle board to push the shark away as it returned for Cook.
“Seeing that the shark was headed toward them, Keoni used his knowledge about sharks to thrust one end of his paddle against its nose, the most sensitive part of the creature, to push it away,” said Gov. David Ige.
“In situations like that, there’s not really a ton of time to think, and your body kind of does things for you without your permission and that was the case in this case,” said Bowthorpe.
Doctors had to amputate most of Cook’s left leg. After the attack, Cook credited Bowthorpe for saving his life.
“I’ve been speaking with Colin and his family today and yesterday. Our family just kind of grew by double that day. Colin and I didn’t really know each other, but now we’re good friends,” said Bowthorpe.
Last month, Cook told us he’s still adjusting to his prosthetic leg, but he’s already back out and surfing.
The Carnegie Hero Fund will award each recipient or their survivors with a financial grant. The fund was established by industrialist-philanthropist Andrew Carnegie and has awarded $38.5 million in one-time grants, scholarship aid, death benefits and continuing assistance since it was established in 1904. Since then, 9,893 heroes have been honored by the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission.