HONOLULU (AP) — A woman who lost her arm in a Maui shark attack kept repeating that she was going to die, the California high school teacher who jumped into the water to save her said Friday.
“As soon as we stand on the beach, we heard this blood-curdling scream,” said Rick Moore, 57, of Laguna Niguel, Calif. “We look out and there was blood everywhere in the white water around her.”
He put on flippers and swam to her, said Moore, who teaches physical education and health at Creekside High School in Irvine, Calif. “About 10 feet from her, I saw her floating on her back, with no arm,” he said. “It was completely severed from her body.”
The 20-year-old German visitor was snorkeling in 15- to 20-foot-deep water off Palauea Beach in Makena when the shark bit off her arm Wednesday afternoon.
With the bikini-clad woman’s other arm around his neck, Moore backstroked about 100 yards through strong ocean currents.
“It dawned on me — I was in danger now,” he said. “The shark is around me and she’s bleeding. I start praying out loud, ‘God, God protect us.’ She said, ‘I’m dying. I know I’m going to die.’”
She was starting to lose consciousness, he said.
“I started crying out to God and I got this burst of strength,” said Moore, who is also a pastor. “I swam toward the shore.”
Moore’s buddy, Nicholas Grisaffi, 61, of Laguna Beach, Calif., stood in neck-high water and took the woman from Moore and carried her limp body out of the water.
“What was left of her shoulder was in my chest,” said Grisaffi, who teaches homeless fourth- and fifth-graders. “I had a pure-white rash guard on” but there was very little blood on it, an indication of how much blood she lost.
The two teachers said they put the woman in a bystander’s kayak, using it as a stretcher to bring her up a trail leading to the street.
The woman’s three friends were in shock as Moore performed CPR.
“Pretty much everybody was out of control except me and Rick,” Grisaffi said. “If we’re not there, she’s not saved. Nobody did a thing. They just stood there in shock, watching the blood and everything.”
A police officer arrived with a tourniquet as the woman was going in and out of consciousness, Grisaffi said. An ambulance rushed her to Maui Memorial Medical Center.
Joshua Craddock, a 23-year-old from London who was sunbathing on the beach at the time, called 911. He hailed Moore’s bravery.
“He was pretty heroic and selfless to dive in the water when by this stage she was surrounded by a pool of blood which we could see form the shore,” Craddock said.
Moore and Grisaffi have visited the woman in the hospital and said she was in stable condition Friday. Authorities have declined to release her name.
“I just can’t get the screaming out of my head,” Grisaffi said. “The arm didn’t bother me. At our age, we’ve seen a lot.”
The ordeal has changed his perspective on the ocean. “I won’t take risks of going too far out any more,” he said.
Hawaii officials say shark attacks are unusual considering how many people are in the state’s waters. There have been six shark attacks this year through the end of July, including three on Maui, according to a state database. There were 11 shark attacks in the state in 2012.
The last time anyone in Hawaii died from a shark attack was in 2004.
To reduce the risk of being injured by a shark attack, state officials urge people to swim in groups and avoid going in the ocean at dawn and dusk, when sharks may come closer to shore to feed. But Craddock said he doubts many people are aware of these warnings.
“She was a young, fair-haired blond girl on vacation and she clearly had no idea,” he said.