Surfer speaks out after shark bite at White Plains Beach

Published  5:35 PM HST Jul 30, 2013
HONOLULU -

It was a bad day to get "jiggy" with "Braddah Jack," as the local surfers have nicknamed the ocean predator.

Kiowa Gatewood learned the hard way that paddling out in murky water before a storm is a bad idea.

"I was just sitting down on my board and then a tiger shark just came out of the water right next to my leg," said Gatewood.  "When it came out, it bit me and I had a reaction time to hit it on the side of its face right over here and it turned around and swam right back."

"I just see the tail fin come up and him go under water.  And then a second later, he came back up and we both looked at each other and we just started paddling straight in for shore," said surfing buddy Paul Spencer.

The gash on his surfboard is identical to the gash on Gatewood's leg, extending from the knee to mid-shin.  Just out of surgery, the Kapiolani Community College architecture student is not expected to be fully mobile for a couple of months.

Gatewood thinks it was a case of mistaken identity.  A monk seal was spotted on the beach earlier in the day.

"There was actually a lot of surfers out and I just thought like, there's a big number of us in a group and I was more closer to shore than everyone else, but I was just in the wrong spot," said Gatewood.

And despite advisories to stay out of the water as Tropical Storm Flossie approached, the lure of waves was too great.

"Why go surfing during a tropical storm?" asked KITV4 News anchor Pamela Young. 

Spencer responded, "Because the swells get better."

The lesson learned?  Kiowa and his surfing pals are not likely to return to White Plains Beach anytime soon, and certainly not at the onset of a tropical storm.

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