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By Lila Fujimoto

MAUI, Hawaii (The Maui News, Feb. 28) - A stretch of beach in Makena was closed Monday afternoon when a 15-year-old Kihei girl was attacked by a shark in shallow waters at Big Beach.

The girl and her boyfriend were standing in about 2 feet of water when he was bumped by the shark and she was bitten in the right calf, said Randy Awo, Maui branch chief of enforcement for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Based on the 12-inch bite mark on the side and back portion of the girl’s calf, a biologist estimated the shark to be as large as 10 feet long, Awo said.

The girl was in critical but stable condition and undergoing surgery Monday night at Maui Memorial Medical Center, said her father, Dan Raleigh of New Jersey.

Fifteen-year-old Kihei resident Jessy Larson, who was standing a couple of feet away, said the girl and her boyfriend were hugging when the shark swam in. He said he didn’t see the attack, although he later saw the shark turn and head out to sea.

"She just started screaming," Larson said. "I looked and I seen the dorsal fin, and

then afterward I saw it in the ocean swimming out.

"That’s the first shark I’ve seen out here. I thought I was dreaming. I couldn’t believe it."

Larson described the shark as 5 to 7 feet long and "solid gray."

After the attack was reported at 4:40 p.m., police and state enforcement officers responded at the crowded beach, closing the shoreline from the Maui Prince Hotel to Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve.

The beach closure was expected to resume at sunrise today and continue until at least noon while officials assessed the situation.

It was the second time in four days that a portion of the South Maui coast was closed because of a shark attack.

"I’m very concerned about two incidents in the same general shoreline area in less than a week," Awo said.

Larson, a 10th-grader who attends Kihei Charter School with the 9th-grade girl who was bitten, said he had gone to the beach with the girl and her boyfriend after school Monday to celebrate the boyfriend’s 17th birthday.

"We just came to have a good time," Larson said. "I was skim boarding, but we were just swimming at the time."

He said the waves were 1 to 2 feet. "It was just a little bit choppy," he said.

He said the girl’s boyfriend, an Upcountry resident, reported being knocked over by the shark. "He’s pretty big," Larson said. "It must be a big shark."

Seattle residents Matt Zaremba and Chad Stalder said they at first thought the teenagers were playing in the water.

"We thought they were horsing around," Stalder said.

"What’s nuts, though, is it was in a foot of water," Zaremba said. "We were sitting down in the sand, waves hitting me."

After seeing the girl bleeding, Zaremba grabbed a towel and bandaged the girl’s leg. "It was just bone," he said. "It was a huge bite."

While his wife called 911, Zaremba said two nurses, two firefighters and a medic who were off duty and at the beach tended to the injured girl. "She got lucky," Zaremba said. "The bite was nasty."

He said the girl could wiggle her toes. "She was a trouper," Zaremba said.

The visitors ran along the packed beach, warning others about the shark attack.

The girl was taken by ambulance to Maui Memorial Medical Center at 5:20 p.m.

By late afternoon, as state enforcement officials scanned the shoreline, the beach was empty.

Raleigh said his daughter was in good spirits Monday night.

While she preferred to stay on the boardwalk while living with him in New Jersey, he said she began surfing when she moved to Maui about a year ago to live with her mother.

"She hated the water here," he said. "Now she loves it."

The attack Monday occurred about a mile from the location off Makena where remains of a missing free diver were discovered Friday morning.

The man, who didn’t return from a diving outing at Makena Landing on Thursday afternoon, is believed to be 45-year-old Anthony Moore of San Jose, Calif. A positive identification is pending further testing.

Dr. Anthony Manoukian, the Maui County coroner’s physician who performed the autopsy on the remains, said preliminary autopsy results suggest the man was dead before his body was bitten by a shark.

In another shark sighting in the area, a shark was seen bumping up against a kayak about a mile off Big Beach on Feb. 1. The kayaker wasn’t injured.

March 1, 2006

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