For 34-year-old Julie Given-Glance, Nov. 17 started out as just another day in paradise.
The San Diego credit union executive was vacationing with her family on the Hawaiian island of Maui, when she set out that morning for what she thought would be a 20-minute swim. Instead, just 100 yards off the shore of Kaanapali Beach, she swam into the path of a shark.
"I was swimming along when my right shoulder got slammed by something big," Given-Glance told Good Morning America. "I felt the bite, was released almost immediately, and turned to see a six- to eight-foot shark right in front of my eyes."
With the help of a boogie boarder who was about 20 yards away and her own determination, Given-Glance managed to get to shore.
Feeling Like Bait
Right after the bite, the pain wasn't that intense, but Given-Glance was shocked and "scared out of my wits," she said. The shark bit into her right shoulder, chewed her forearm, and nearly severed her wrist, before swimming away.
Given-Glance feared her blood would attract a feeding frenzy of other sharks, and that she had basically become "bait."
But instead of panicking, the amateur triathlete grabbed her injured arm with the other arm, rolled onto her back and began using her legs to swim. As she swam to shore, horrified beachgoers heard her screaming, and one woman dialed 911.
"There's a gal … in front of the Maui Kai and the Embassy Suites, she's bleeding profusely," the woman said. "She's been attacked by a shark or something."
"Someone's bringing her in?" the operator asked.
"Yes," the caller said. "We heard all this screaming and she was way out there and she started coming in, and a man came and helped her."
The man was 27-year-old Steve Bona. He was on his first day of vacation with his girlfriend and had been riding the surf on a boogie board, when he saw the body of a gray shark, apparently about 8 to 10 feet long, diving into the water. A wave then blocked his view, and Bona thought he had imagined seeing the shark, until he heard a woman crying, "Help me! Help me." Given-Glance was about 20 yards away from him.
"I could hear the woman's screams, and that sort of clinched it for me," said Bona, of New Brighton, Minn. Instead of heading to the shore — his first instinct — he immediately headed toward Given-Glance. He managed to scoop her up onto his boogie board, and then started paddling for shore.
‘I Don’t Want to Die’
She kept saying, "I have two babies, I have two babies, I don't want to die."
Though it seems irrational now, she worried that Bona would take off, so she felt like she needed to tell him about her husband, their 2-year-old daughter, and five-month-old son, Given-Glance said.
After they made it to shore, beachgoers pressed towels and blankets against her wounds as they waited for an ambulance. Given-Glance received over 100 stitches, and underwent a four-hour surgery to repair torn tendons.
The shoulder is fine, but she worries about the wrist. It will take about a year of therapy to get back use of her right hand.
The International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville lists the Maui incident as the 52nd worldwide shark attack worldwide this year, including six in Hawaii. Though there were a series of highly publicized attacks in the summer of 2001, there were fewer that year than in 2000, and still fewer in 2002.
Despite the months of rehabilitation, Given-Glance says she grew up swimming, and is determined to get back into the water. She hopes to return to Hawaii to compete in the Ironman Triathlon, and wants her children to enjoy swimming, and not be afraid of the water, despite what happened to her
"I expect to be back swimming and playing golf by next summer," she said.