When there's a shark in the water, most people swim to shore. A Big Island waterman was honored Wednesday for doing just the opposite to help a 16-year-old surfer back to shore following an attack.
"On behalf of the Hawaii County community, we extend our deepest gratitude for your unselfish and your extraordinary act of benevolence," said Hawaii County Council Member Zendo Kern as he presented his first certificate as councilman to former lifeguard Dallas O'Shaughnessy.
Jimmy Ulualoha "Ulu Boy" Napeahi was bitten by a shark at a break known as "Dead Trees" at Pohoiki on Aug. 18. O'Shaughnessy is credited with saving Napeahi.
"Thanks everybody, I appreciate it," O'Shaughnessy said. "We got to really thank my mom, because without her, I wouldn't have been there."
While the humble O'Shaughnessy is a man of few words, others like "Ulu Boy," are more than willing to heap praise on him.
"He basically did everything that he could," Napeahi said. "He provided all the skills and he was the leader of it all. He showed such good leadership and it really showed me how much of man Dallas really is."
Kern said, "(O'Shaughnessy) got in, brought (Napeahi) to shore, the people came from the beach, lift him up out of there and immediately, Dallas, taking off his leash off his surfboard, making a tourniquet, telling him it's going to be OK."
Napeahi said he suffered dozens of wounds from waist down, but that the shark missed all his main ligaments. Now a month after the attack, he says he's been progressing well and began physical therapy this week.
His mother, Claire Napeahi, said, "He's recovering really quickly and as a 16-year-old, real determined and never listens you know, keeps pushing himself to do better, to get back in the ocean."
She said he's already signed up to participate in upcoming events with the Association of Surfing Professionals and that "Ulu Boy" plans to be back in the water surfing at Pohoiki on Oct. 12.