Man recovering after shark attack off Kona beach

Courtesy: Shelby Eriksson
Courtesy: Shelby Eriksson

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A Big Island man says he’s on the road to recovery after being attacked by a shark.

On Tuesday, 28-year-old James Kerrigan and his friends went to Kekaha Kai State Park. He’s been to the beach before, but never in the water.

“It was perfectly calm, clear water. It was shallow. Beautiful day,” Kerrigan said.

He was swimming with his fiancée about 100 yards from shore in water 10 to 12 feet deep.

“I just felt something grabbing on my back leg and at first I just thought it was one of my friends messing with me,” Kerrigan said.

Kerrigan didn’t see what grabbed him.

“Once I saw the blood, the adrenaline kind of kicked in and I don’t even remember anything beyond getting to shore, just swimming in as fast as I could,” Kerrigan said.

Once he got to shore, beachgoers helped him until paramedics arrived.

Officials believe a 14-foot tiger shark, which they later spotted, may have been the predator.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources shut down the Kona beach, which remains closed.

Kerrigan, who moved to Kona from New Jersey last year, says he’s not letting this incident get him down.

“No use worrying about what happened in the past. Just look towards the future and try to get healed up as best I can,” Kerrigan said.

Kerrigan could go home as soon as Thursday, but it will be a while before he returns to the ocean.

The Hawaii Fire Department will check the beach again on Thursday and determine whether to reopen it or keep it closed for a third day.

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