By Wendy Osher
(Update: 10 p.m. 8/14/13; Posted: 5:28 p.m. 8/14/13)
A 20-year-old woman from Germany was hospitalized in critical condition, after her right arm was severed in a shark attack at Palauea Beach, also known as White Rock in Mākena, on Wednesday afternoon, county officials confirmed.
The attack was reported at around 4:41 p.m. while the woman was snorkeling about 50 yards from shore. County officials say the conditions were choppy with limited visibility.
“We heard screaming from the water and it was this unbelievable scream like I’ve never heard before,” said Andree Conley-Kapoi, a resident of Upcountry, Maui who was working in the area.
“The only time anybody would scream like that is if they are being attacked by a shark,” said Conley-Kapoi who observed the commotion taking place and called 911.
According to Conley-Kapoi, she could see one person attempting to swim another person in to shore. A separate person grabbed a kayak and went out to assist as well, she said.
“The amount of time from when we heard the initial screams to them pulling her out of the water was probably about 10 minutes,” said Conley-Kapoi who described the woman as being “completely white,” when she reached shore aboard a kayak.
“I could see that she had a bite on her foot, and I could also see that she lost a limb,” said Conley-Kapoi who said it looked like the victim was missing an arm.
County officials say crews from the Maui Fire Department’s Ladder-14 from Wailea administered CPR and first aid upon arrival on scene; and medics transported the woman to the Maui Memorial Medical Center for further treatment.
Crews from Ocean Safety, the Department of Land and Natural Resources, and Fire department personnel worked to close the beaches for one mile in either direction of the incident from Mākena Beach Resort to Mana Kai Resort. The Maui Fire Department’s Air-1 helicopter and Maui Police were also seen doing air and land patrols of the shoreline area where the incident occurred.
County officials say a search will be conducted on Thursday, Aug. 15, to determine whether or not affected beaches can reopen. The area will remain closed for a minimum of 24-hours according to shark attack protocols, county officials said in a statement.
The public is asked to adhere to all warnings and beach closures.
The incident comes on the heels of a separate incident in which a shark bit an unmanned board about a quarter mile offshore of Kaʻa Point near Kanahā Beach in Central Maui on Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013. No one was injured in that incident.
The incident also comes on the heels of a shark attack reported on Wednesday July 31, 2013, in Ulua Beach area of South Maui. During that incident, a California woman was treated and released from the hospital after suffering bite marks to her torso.
***Check back for further details, which will be posted as they become available.