This is a true story of inspiration!
After finishing school in Rhode Island, I moved to the North Shore of Oahu. There I worked at JC Hawaii for several years before opening my own business, building boards for some of Hawaii’s top board manufacturers. I hiked, free dived, and most importantly, I was surfing every day. To most, I was living the surfer’s dream. But on October 9th, 2015, my life changed forever.
It was a beautiful day in Hawaii. Like most days, it started by running across the street to check the surf. The waves looked fun at Leftovers, so I grabbed my board and paddled out. After surfing for nearly two hours, I was sitting on my board waiting to catch another wave, when, out of nowhere, I was struck by a 13-foot tiger shark with the force of what felt like a car collision. When I realized what was happening, the shark had my left leg in its mouth and pulled me off my board and under water. I began fighting for my life, punching its nose and doing everything I could to free myself. I somehow was able to swim to the surface and grab my board. I screamed for help and a very brave and very selfless standup surfer named Keoni Bowthorpe paddled over to me and began to fight off the shark with his paddle. The shark was relentless. It would not stop going after me. Luckily, I was able to get on Keoni’s board and he paddled me to shore. The shark made several attempts to hit us and it did not leave our side until we got to the sand.
When I got to shore, bystanders tied a tourniquet around my leg and called 911. I thought I was going to die. My left leg was gone and my hands were completely mangled. When I finally got in the ambulance, the first thing I did was ask for a cell phone so I could call my mom and dad and tell them what happened. I was rushed to Queens Hospital in Honolulu where doctors were able to save my life. Unfortunately, they had to amputate my left leg, devastatingly above the knee. The doctors spent over four hours sewing my hands back together. I spent a week there getting strong enough to be moved to a rehabilitation hospital.
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