Woman Found Dead in Maui, Hawaii, Waters Likely Shark Victim

Margaret Cruse, 65, had been snorkeling with friends but they got separated.

April 30, 2015, 9:49 PM

— -- A popular beach spot in Maui, Hawaii, was reopened after a closure today as authorities await confirmation of an apparent fatal shark attack.

Margaret C. Cruse, 65, of Kihei, Maui, was found by snorkelers Wednesday around 9 a.m. in a popular surfing area called "Dumps." Cruse was unresponsive and floating face-down just 200 yards offshore, the Maui Fire Department said in a statement. Paramedics and firefighters were unable to revive her.

The department said that Cruse had been snorkeling with two friends and then separated from them. Authorities said the injuries to the woman's upper torso were consistent with a shark attack. They were awaiting an official autopsy report.

If confirmed, the attack would be the first shark-related death in the U.S. since 2013, according to the International Shark Attack File. That year, two people died in Maui after being bitten by sharks.

Beaches on Maui were closed for a mile on each side of the attack location until noon local time today, the day after the attack, as is typical following a shark incident, according to Hawaii's Department of Land and Natural Resources.

According to the ISAF, two-thirds of all shark attacks in the world occur in the U.S., with 52 reported in 2014. Earlier this month, a Florida man was airlifted to the hospital after being bitten by a shark. The man was spearfishing off Jupiter Inlet when he was bitten, according to ABC affiliate WPBF-TV.

In southern California, 2,500 miles away from the Maui beach, sharks have residents on guard. Signs warning people of several great white sightings dot the shoreline. So far, the beaches have remained open.

Beachgoer Ryan Riske said the signs were a reality check.

"To hear [about] it and actually see a sign up, you know, it wakes you up a little bit," Riske said today.

Cruse's death would also be the latest in a long line of dangerous, close encounters in the U.S. In September, Ida Parker and Kristin Orr were kayaking in the water near White Horse Beach in Plymouth, Massachusetts, when a great white shark attacked. The two women were stunned, but not injured.

"It happened so fast," Orr said. "I was talking to her and the next minute, I'm in the water, and I just see a shark biting my kayak."

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