KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) — A Hawaii woman escaped a tiger shark attack with only some injuries to her fingers and hand after her friend punched the animal until it relented.
McKenzie Clark, a surfer, left the hospital last week after getting 20 stitches on her left hand, middle finger and ring finger. The ring finger, scraped to the bone, will require a skin graft.
"Its intent was to eat my friend right in front of me, and I wasn't going to let that happen," Brian Wargo said of Friday's attack.
Clark was paddling her surfboard in murky waters in the Big Island's Keawaeli Bay when the shark emerged, she told West Hawaii Today (http://ow.ly/DKtln ).
Wargo saw Clark and her board on top of the shark's back.
"I started paddling out to her, but the shark was carrying her away from me out to sea. Then he dropped her," Wargo said.
The shark returned and clamped onto Clark's hand and board. She was able to free her hand and rolled off the board, but the shark kept the board between its teeth, towing Clark by the leash that attaches to a surfer's ankle.
Wargo grabbed the dorsal fin with both hands, pulled the shark off the board and started punching it between the gills and dorsal fin.
"It felt like it was going to break my hand," he said. "About the sixth hit, I felt the shark shudder and turn away from her."
The Department of Land and Natural Resources closed the beach after Friday's incident.
Information from: West Hawaii Today, http://www.westhawaiitoday.com