National News

Big Island man, 37, recovering after great white shark attack in Atlantic Ocean

Posted August 3, 2017 12:14 p.m. EDT

— A Big Island man attacked by a great white shark off a remote island in the Atlantic Ocean is now recovering in a Florida hospital.

"He's in excruciating pain and lost quite a bit of muscle mass," said Eileen Matsu, mother of Kawika Matsu.

Eileen describes her son, Kawika, as an avid outdoorsman and ocean lover. But, now, he's confined to a hospital after severe shark bites to his shoulder and back.

"He said, 'This one, mom, was about 12-to14-feet and I'm pretty sure it was a great white,'" said Eileen Matsu.

Kawika Matsu, 37, was working as an air conditioning technician on the island of Ascension, located between Africa and South America. He passed on vacation and decided to stay a little longer. Eileen Matsu says her son was paddleboarding 90 meters from the shore when the shark knocked him off the board.

"As he was trying to get back on the board, that's when [the shark] came back and got him on the right buttocks and chomped a big portion off and again, a little bit of the thigh," said Eileen Matsu.

Eileen says members of the tiny island community donated blood to save Kawika. But, because of the its remote location, it took three days to fly him to a mainland hospital.

Skin grafts and reconstructive surgery are part of his recovery plan. Family and friends starts a GoFundMe page to help ease medical expenses.

"They want to get the grafts done this week because they're worried about any kind of damage. Right now, he can move his fingers and he has some patience, so that's good. But they're worried about the upper right arm," said Eileen.

Eileen says her son could be hospitalized for up to a year. Family will rotate shifts staying at his bedside.