Hawaii Swimmer Rips Out Shark's Eye To Survive Attack

Tony Lee, who lost one foot, was holding the eyeball when he finally escaped to the surface.

A Hawaii man put up a furious fight against an attacking shark last week and narrowly escaped with his life.

Tony Lee, 44, lost one foot in the Oct. 17 battle off Oahu's windward shore. The shark swam away missing one eye.

A closeup of a tiger shark in the Bahamas. Many sharks have a nictating membrane that covers and protects the eye when a
A closeup of a tiger shark in the Bahamas. Many sharks have a nictating membrane that covers and protects the eye when a shark bites its prey.

In an interview with KITV News, Lee said he was swimming off Lanikai Beach in Kailua when out of nowhere he "felt a yank" on his legs. He turned around to find a tiger shark -- which he described as a "big guy" -- with both of his legs in its mouth. 

As the shark repeatedly pulled him under, Lee threw punches in a desperate attempt to fend off the animal, KITV reported.

"I had goggles on, so I could see things really clearly, and I kept thinking that if I just kept punching him he would let me go," Lee said. "He pulled me down one last time, so I just reached out and put my finger in his eye and pulled out his eyeball."

When Lee finally escaped to the surface, he said, "I was holding his eyeball. So I let it go and was treading water." 

A father and son kayaking in the area heard Lee's screams and came to his rescue, paddling him to shore. Lee lost so much blood, doctors said, that just a few more minutes without aid would have been fatal, according to KITV.

"I could feel the blood leaving my body, and there was a big trail," Lee said.

Lee, an avid athlete, lost one foot and likely will undergo surgery to repair the second. While he's eager to get back to his active lifestyle, he admitted it will be a while before he'll get in the water again.

"I got a little PTSD, you know," he told KITV. "Sometimes when I close my eyes, I can still see the shark."

Lee's encounter was the sixth shark attack off Hawaii's shores this year. A separate incident the same day at Waikiki Beach was initially reported as a shark attack, but was later confirmed by state officials as an eel bite

Watch KITV's full report and interview with Lee below:

 

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