Thursday, December 22, 2005

It cost him his fingers but not his life!

A California man was attacked by shark today on Maui's south shore. Authorities say the attack happened just before noon at Keawakapu Beach.

The victim, 29-year-old Jonathon Genant, is a Web site designer from San Diego. He told KGMB9 that he thought he was dreaming.

Genant said he was swimming hundreds of yards from shore, in about 30 feet of water, when the shark came straight up from the bottom with its jaws open three feet wide.

"His jaws were just humongous," said Genant.

At first, Genant thought it was a Great White shark.

From his hospital bed in Maui, he said he put out his hands to push the shark away when it chomped down.

"It was really a quick powerful motion," Genant recalled. "I heard the bones snap and from that point I knew I was in trouble."

Four hundred yards out from Keawakapu Beach, and losing blood, Genant started kicking to shore on his back. He said he was in terror, just waiting for that shark to hit him again.

"I yelled a couple times to the people on the beach," he said. "I yelled out 'Help! Help!' I didn't know they could hear me."

People on the beach heard his screams and construction worker Alex Stiller swam out to help.
"He was holding his hand up and it was just pouring blood," said Stiller.

As Genant was being rushed to Maui Memorial Hospital, fire crews put up a helicopter and spotted a 12-foot tiger shark. Lifeguards on jet skis chased the animal into deeper water. Shark warnings quickly went up at beaches all over the south shore as police ordered tourists not to go in past their ankles.

"Probably we'll take the next two weeks out of the ocean, might go to the pool," said Melanie Holmes, a tourist from Toronto.

Genant has his own advice for ocean goers tonight: don't swim alone and don't swim in murky water 400 yards from shore. This is from a man feeling lucky tonight to have just eight fingers.
"Just with the size of this guy I felt quite fortunate I could get away as I did," said Genant.
The attack took off Genant's pinkie finger, most of his ring finger and part of his hand.
A two-mile stretch of beach remains closed from Kihei to Wailea until Thursday at noon.


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