A Kauai surfer needed 49 stitches to his left hand after a 10-foot tiger shark bit him during an evening session on Monday, according to Hawaii News Now.
Mitch Milan of Kauai was surfing with his friend Gary Watkins around dusk on October 9th on the island’s west side, when, out of the black water, the shark suddenly attacked Milan as he was laying on his board.
“I was outside of the waves, just waiting for a set wave to come in,” Milan told Hawaii News Now,” “and all of a sudden, my worst nightmare. Any surfer’s worst nightmare.”
“I don’t know how I got my hand out of its mouth but all of a sudden, I’m on my back. The thing kind of swings around, and it’s looking at me, and I’m just going, ‘Please God, let me live.’”
Watkins was about 40 feet away from Milan when he heard his friend screaming and struggling to free his hand from the shark’s jaws.
“I saw the board tombstoning in the shark’s mouth and its pectoral fin, tail, and dorsal breaking water as it thrashed with the board,” Watkins told reporters. “I heard a noise and looked to see that the shark had his board and he was frantically backstroking and kicking at the shark to get away. I paddled straight to him, and as I got there, it let go of the board and he pulled it to him by the leash, turned, and was gone on a wave. I watched the shark erratically swim a few circles around me and where the attack happened, and [when] the next wave came, I was out, too.”
Milan’s board received the worst of the damage — photos show a bite to the shortboard that measured a frightening 141/2-inches wide and 51/2-inches deep. Once Milan and Watkins paddled in, Milan was rushed to the emergency room. The site of the encounter was the same break where a 28-year-old French surfer was attacked in April, resulting in a critical injury that required a partially amputated right leg. Prior to that incident, the last reported shark attack on Kauai happened over a year ago.
As he continues his recovery, Milan is thankful to be in healthier shape than his board.
“I consider myself very, very blessed to be alive,” he said. “That’s the one thing, when you’re looking at this creature that wants to eat you.”