LIHUE — A 29-year-old French man attacked by a shark on Friday is in good spirits and thankful for the bystanders and first responders who assisted him.
“I’m enjoying just waking up and sleeping again, and eating,” said Baboo, who declined to give his real name. “I just cried for 30 minutes seeing the wave (at Poipu on Tuesday). I feel so good to be alive.”
Baboo, who arrived on Kauai the day before the attack, had part of his right leg amputated after a shark reported to be around 12 feet long attacked him in Kekaha at a popular surf spot known as Davidson’s Friday morning.
This is the first reported shark attack on Kauai this year, said Sarah Blane, county spokeswoman.
Ray Mac Pigott, a Kekaha resident and avid surfer at Davidson’s, witnessed the event.
“Friday morning, there was quite a few guys out because the waves were good,” Pigott said. “When I was paddling out, I recognized him as someone I had seen before.”
Pigott explained the setup of the reef to Baboo, and went back to his car.
After he got out of the water, Pigott checked his phone, looked up and saw the attack.
“I was just surfing a good session, and this shark just bite me,” Baboo said. “I didn’t see nothing coming.”
At that point, Pigott could hear Baboo screaming. He saw blood in the water and called 911.
“The guy rode a wave, desperately. He was paddling strong, so I knew his upper body was in good shape,” Pigott said. “The other surfers helped him across the shallow reef, on the sand, and a tourniquet was applied from his own leash.”
Baboo has a GoFundMe account — www.gofundme.com/3nlzqe8 — to help with medical costs as well as to purchase prosthetics.
“I’m a ski instructor, a sail instructor, a surf instructor, and I’ll need a bunch of prosthetics for that,” he said. “Teaching is my life.”
The last reported shark attack on the Westside was in 2012 at Pakala, when a 10-foot shark injured a surfer’s left foot. Earlier that year, a tiger shark, estimated at 10 feet, bit the tail of a surfboard at Davidson’s about 150 yards from shore. The surfer escaped uninjured.
The last reported shark bite on Kauai happened at Kalapaki Beach in June when a 3-foot shark caused a minor puncture wound on the arm of a local resident.
Though he lost part of his right leg, Baboo plans to get into the water again.
“I want to get in as soon as possible, man,” he said. “A few people have invited me to come back and surf here. Aloha, man, a lot of love.”