Jeff Horton, 25, was sitting on his surfboard in Kilauea, Kauai, on Sunday October 20, absorbing some rays and waiting for the perfect wave, when he saw an undersea monster coming straight for him. But the former boxer didn’t panic; he fought off the beast and punched it in the eye, swimming back to shore with just a few scratches, reports The Garden Island.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Horton Was Riding on the Shark’s Back
The killer fish stalking Horton was a massive tiger shark, he believed it to be around 12 feet long, according to witnesses. At first, Horton thought he was looking at a bigger than a average sting-ray. He quickly realized he was in a fight for this life when the shark leaped out of the water and took a bite out of Horton’s board. The surfer was knocked onto the shark’s back, where he says he was basically riding around on the animal.
2. He Used His Boxing Skills to Fend Off the Monster
When the shark got Horton off its back, it circled to go in for the kill. But Horton, a one-time boxer, began punching the shark’s skin. Experts will tell you the best defense against a marauding shark is to try and strike the fish in the eye. Horton says: “I finally got one nice punch into the eye. I put some really good hits on it, for sure.” Wounded, the shark swam away. Horton meanwhile scrambled for the safety of a friend’s board and paddled back to shore, reports The Associated Press.
Speaking to Fox News, Horton said: “I rolled to the top of the shark and punched it in the mouth and got one shot in the eye. I thought I was going to die unless I put up the best fight I ever had.”
3. A Crowd Gathered on the Beach to Help Horton
A throng of tourists on the beach crowded around Horton when he landed back on shore. His injuries, thankfully, amounted to nothing more than a few scratches from the shark’s skin. His board bore the brunt of the damage. One tourist on the beach gave Horton $50 and told him to buy a bottle. Horton told Fox News about his relief at being back on shore: “I’m lucky to be here today.”
4. Horton Moved to Hawaii in 2010
Horton, who has been surfing since he was 14, moved to Hawaii from Washington, D.C., three years ago. He told The Garden Island that although he’s seen sharks when spearfishing, he’d never experienced anything like what happened to him on October 20.
The trauma of the attack, Horton says, will not keep him from the water.
5. Shark Attacks Are on the Rise in Hawaii
In August, a German tourist, Jana Lutteropp, 20, was killed by a shark in Maui. Lutteropp lost her arm and succumbed to her injuries a week later. On October 24, just days after Horton’s encounter, a man, Shane Mills, 45, was bitten by a shark in Maui, reports Hawaii News Now. The man is expected to be fine, he even drove himself to the hospital.
According to the International Shark Attack File from the Florida Museum of Natural History, in 2011 there were three shark attacks in Hawaii; in 2012 that number had risen to 10; so far there have been nine in 2013.