May 26 (UPI) — A 65-year-old tourist from California died from an apparent shark attack in waters off the western coast of Maui in Hawaii, the first fatality in the state since 2015.
The unidentified victim was about 60 yards offshore at Kaanapali Shores in front of the Aston Kaanapali Shores hotel in Lahaina when the shark attack occurred around 9:30 a.m., according to Maui Department of Fire and Public Safety, the Star-Advertiser reported.
“He apparently came into contact with a shark, was seen in distress by witnesses who called 911,” Chief Jason Redulla of Hawaii’s Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement told ABC News Radio. “County first responders responded and found the male in the water.”
He was brought to shore on a jet ski, according to KITV-TV.
The man was vacationing with his wife and appeared to have suffered wounds to his leg and wrist, witness Allison Keller told Hawaii News Now’s KGMB-TV and KHNL-TV.
“I saw some blood on his stomach and then I got looking a little bit more and his wrist, it looked like the skin on his wrist was just torn off,” Keller said. “And then I got looking closer and his entire left leg from his knee down was just missing. There was no blood or anything.”
The species of shark wasn’t identified though tiger sharks are most commonly responsible.
Conditions were described by officials as flat to 1-foot surf with clear waters.
After the attack, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources put up shark-warning signs at Kaanapali Beach Park. As standard protocol, the signs will stay up until at least noon Sunday.
This was the sixth shark attack this year — all in Maui waters — compared with three on the islands in all of 2018, according to Hawaii’s Division of Aquatic Resources.
The last fatality was a 65-year-old woman snorkeling at Ahihi Kinau Bay on April 29, 2015.
Before Saturday’s attack, the previous incident was on May 8 off the coast of Oahu when a woman suffered injuries to her arm and hand while swimming.
“In an island state that’s surrounded by water, human and shark conflicts do occur from time to time,” Redulla said. “There is always the potential for conflict between animal and human and we just have to be aware of that and respect that.”