HONOLULU (KHON2) – It was around 7:30 p.m. on Sunday when 16-year-old Max Keliikipi said he was waiting for a wave.
He was about a hundred yards offshore of Makaha Beach when he spotted what he thought was a turtle fin in the water. He didn’t realize it was a shark until it was right next to him.
“It goes underneath the water, [and] I put my feet on top of my board. I’m just sitting there, looking around for it,” said Keliikipi.
He believes the shark was about ten to 12 feet long.
“And then boom, it comes underneath me, bites my board.”
“It was literally, and I’m not exaggerating this at all, literally an inch or two in front of my feet,” said Keliikipi.
The force threw Max into the water. He is a junior lifeguard, so his instincts immediately kicked in.
“There is that fear factor. It was the fight or flight thing, and for me it was just flight,” said Keliikipi. “As soon as I hit the water, I just started swimming, and I didn’t think about where the shark was. I just had to get in.”
He was able to make it to shore safely and uninjured.
This comes just three months after a man was killed after a shark attack on Maui.
According to the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, there’s been seven shark attacks just this year, up from three last year and five in 2017. Four of those attacks occurred on Oahu.
As for Max, he said he’s learned his lesson. He’s seen sharks out in that area before, but never thought that he could come close to getting bitten.
“Next time I’m just going to go in the daytime and with my friends, not surfing alone anymore,” said Keliikipi.
Signs were posted at Makaha Beach Monday warning people of the shark.