Aaron’s Shark Attack!

      56 Comments on Aaron’s Shark Attack!

Okay everyone, here it is in all it’s gory goodness… THE SHARK ATTACK BLOG!!!!

But before I get to all the bloody stuff, I’m going to bore you with some vacation photos…

Day 1: Arrive in Maui and party!

This picture is scary because of the foreshadowing, Here we are at the Four Seasons on our first day in Hawaii. We decided to have drinks at the Four Seasons while we were waiting to check into our condo…

little did we know...

Look how happy and drunk and bipedal we both were!

Crazy foreshadowing… right behind my right shoulder (your left) is where Aaron would be attacked by a shark two days later!

Day 2: My cousins took us out on their boat to swim with the turtles.

mike's boat

A view of my cousin's boat from the water.

Later on Aaron would say that this day made his shark bite all worth it. He would have gotten attacked all over again just to be able to have the amazing experiences we did this day.

snorkel megan

A self portrait.

aaron skin diving

Aaron skin diving down to the coral reef.

sea turtle!

A honu from far away


my favorite picture of the trip!

That evening Aaron and I drove around the island and visited several beaches…

aaron walking in the tide

This is one of the last pictures I have of Aaron on two legs.

DAY 3: the day that changed our lives.

Over breakfast Aaron let me know that if we didn’t spend that day at the beach he was going to loose his mind. He said he was tired of just going out to lunch and wandering around the island, “he land is here to sleep on at night, the rest of the time we should be in the water” were his actual words.

I always like to go to the Four Seasons beach to start off the trip. We went to that beach that the last time Aaron was on Maui, so we decided to go there again, and oh how our lives would change because of that. I still feel guilty about it some times since it was my idea.

the beach where it happened

The beach (a screen shot from a news report on the attack). if you click on it it will show some notes I made showing approximately where the attack happened and where I was sitting.

I have no picture of the fun times on the beach, I was mostly reading my book and occasionally looking up to check and see if Aaron was still alive. And yes, I did that even before the attack. He spends hours in the water and I was afraid that he would drown or something someday and I would loose him to the ocean. So I made it a habit to look up every now and then and make sure I could see his head surface. It always did, thank god.

I just happened to be watching him for longer than usual when it happened. I saw him jolt upright from floating on his back and look around. I wondered why he was acting so spazzy. The reason was this- Aaron had just felt a harsh bump against his leg, sorta felt like he had hit one of the rocks nearby. He glanced around the water and saw a “big grey thing, kinda like an upside down canoe.” I still shudder when I think of that description. He said, whatever it was was big. Then it was out of sight. It took a minute for Aaron to notice that he was bleeding and when he did he realized that he must have just been attacked by shark! And he started slowly and calmly back stroking towards the shore.

I watched him coming back in and felt relieved because we had already been at the beach for about 3 or 4 hours and the wind had started to pick up and I was pretty much ready to go. I watched him swim back and then started to hear something in the distance. As Aaron was almost halfway back to the shore I heard a voice calling for help, evenly and calmy. I stood up and searched the ocean but couldn’t quite place the voice. It couldn’t be Aaron, he was a strong swimmer and seemed to be doing just fine, but no one else was really in the ocean. I told my mom and Jane to stop talking for a second and listen and I asked “is that Aaron?” My mom’s “mothering instincts” kicked in right away and she knew immediatly that it was him. In a flash she was yelling at a nearby Four Seasons employee to “get in there and help him!” And Manny (the employee) was off in a shot. He got to Aaron right away, I watched them exchange words and tell him to hold on to his floaty-thing, and Manny pulled him to shore. Once past the waves another employee, an enormous 6’3” guy named Chris Hoffman picked Aaron up in his arms as if Aaron weighed nothing and carried him over to a chaise lounge.

And here I am, standing on the beach, confused as all hell, and let’s face it, slightly embarassed, thinking that Aaron must have had a cramp or got caught in an undertow or something lame like that. Until Chris came closer with my boyfriend in his arms and I saw a large red gash on his left calf. A stingray mark maybe? They came closer… No, it looks like a cut, maybe he cut it on a rock? And closer… OH MY GOD! That’s way worse than I thought!!! His calf was hanging down- his calf and his leg were no longer connected. And, as the papers loved to quote, “I just about lost my mind.” I felt it wobble away from me for a second and I almost ran away as far as I could go. But then Chris set Aaron down on the lounge and I ran towards him instead.

And Aaron was laughing! He was actually fricken laughing. He said “I think I got attacked by a fucking shark!” with a twinkle in his eye, and I was laughing too. And then he said “good thing I have great insurance.” And then it wasn’t so funny anymore, because the real tragedy of this story is that Aaron actually has NO insurance what-so-ever!

Jane, my cousin, works for the hospital and had them on the phone in seconds with a bed in the ER with his name on it.

aaron in the ambulance

Aaron laughing in the ambulance.

And now folks… here they are… look away now if you have a weak stomach…

shark bite 4

Aaron in the ER, he looks like he's in pain- he's not. He looks like he's on drugs- he's not yet!

There were apparently two wounds- one on the calf and the one above the knee on the inside of his leg. We didn’t even know about the knee wound until the ER nurses pointed it out.

shark bite 5

The only photo in which you can see both wounds.

shark bite wound 3

See that tiny bit of white? That's Aaron's bone!

shark bite wound 2

we call this one "Meat."

we're okay!

This was taken right after the doctors cleaned and dressed his wound.

board shorts with shark tooth hole

The hole in Aaron's board shorts created by the shark. eeeeerie!!!

Later that night Aaron would be taken into the OR to have his leg operated on for the first time. The doctor put a “wound vac” tube into the gash to clean the wound, making sure it wouldn’t become infected. The wound vac would be on his leg for about 4 days.

Day 4: In the hospital.

That morning in the hospital we watched the sun rise from his window.

sunrise the next morning

Aaron said that the clouds looked like shark fins. Traumatized much?

Aaron in the hospital

Aaron the next morning.

Aaron's legs

That tube coming out of his wounded leg is the tube from the wound vac. The dirty looking stuff on his foot is dried blood. And let me tell you, that stuff's not easy to get off!

Shark Strikes Swimmer

He also made the front page that morning!

Aaron & Dr Galpin

Aaron was visited by his doctor- Dr Peter Galpin. He is the #1 shark bite fixer-upper in the world! Aaron was his 9th shark victim. Dr. Galpin said he was looking forward to hitting double digits soon. 😉

After Dr Galpin gave us the scoop it was time for the “press conference”…

sound guy skills

Aaron mic-ing himself.

Aaron utilized his sound guy skills to put the mics on himself. This was a first for the news guys who were super glad to not have to put their hands up a strangers shirt for once.

on camera

For some reason they wanted a picture of the both of us.

us being interviewed

The one that was used in the Maui News.

dr galpin & aaron

The photo of Aaron and Dr. Galpin from the Maui News.

Day 5: More hospital time.

And the next day Aaron made the front page again…

Aaron on the front page!

Look how thrilled he is.

dad reading our article

My dad reading the paper with Aaron and me on the cover. Weird.

My dad also came over from the mainland! He actually sat next to Kelsey Grammer who was flying out to meet HIS family as well in Maui. (Apparently the Grammers had a fled to Maui during the fires that were raging in California.) And they got to talking and dad mentioned the shark attack. Mr Grammer actually said that he’d heard about that and to tell Aaron that he wishes him well!!!! That was pretty cool.

Halloween through i can’t keep track anymore: Surgery through recovery…

A few days later, on Halloween no less, Aaron’s doctor sewed him all up. Here are the two (tiny) pictures we have from the surgery. I actually took screen shots of the news reports on youtube.

shark wound ready for surgery

This is after it had been all cleaned up by the wound vac.

shark wound ready for surgery

We were told that the above photo was a joke with the nurses. They have to do what is called “time out” where they take a picture and make a note of where they are going to be operating, you know, just in case they open up the wrong place or hack off the wrong limb. I think in this case though, the problem area was quite obvious. See… it’s where the nurse is pointing. See it?

Then a few days after the final surgery he was ready to get out of bed for the first time.

the face of pain
That’s Aaron’s “OW!” face. You can tell how painful it was to just move his leg at all. But eventually they got Aaron up and into a wheelchair and Aaron took his first trip outside the hospital room in a wheel chair.

the view at Maui Memorial

Aaron gets his first look at the amazing view out the newly remodeled front of Maui Memorial Hospital.

wheeling away

Aaron's moment

Then a few days after that, on the day were were supposed to fly home, Aaron was released from the hospital!

and he's up!

Here he is using crutches and wearing clean clothes for the first time.

Getting out of the hospital

When Aaron got home (and by “home” I mean to my cousin Jane’s house) he got the chance to shower for the first time and we all got a look at his newly stitched up wound…

shark bite w stitches

Notice the swelling of his foot! I believe that called edema, but whatever it's called it's disturbing, it was then, it still is now.

Aaron and Dad

My dad and Aaron hanging out at our cousin's house.

A few days later we went back to the hospital to take flowers to the awesome staff…
back to the hospital

And what happened after that is a whole other story I’m saving for a whole new picture blog. (We got engaged!)

But for now there’s this…

happy in the hospital

I have this picture framed and on my bedside table and everyday I look at it when I wake up and before I fall asleep to remind myself of how lucky we are.

I just wanted to say THANK YOU to everyone that called, wrote and visited during Aaron’s recovery. Your support meant more to him than I can ever express without sounding horribly lame and cheesy. But it meant the world to us!

Thanks for stopping by, reading and commenting!

56 thoughts on “Aaron’s Shark Attack!

  1. markus

    thanks for the post megan! i put a link to it on my blog. awesome pics! hope you and aaron are doing well. -markus

  2. Shark Attack Survivors

    Sharks only bite the best people as you can see by reading what Aaron and Megan have put together for us, Great People!We welcome you both to the most exclusive group of people in the world Shark Attack Survivors.Al Brennekahttp://www.sharkattacksurvivors.com

  3. joseclon

    Thanks for your post, Megan.And Aaron… what a man!I hope you two are good and I send you my better wishes from Spain.I have a shark-blog and have made a post over this. It’s amazing and wonderful have first hand information .

  4. jandro

    Hey! i post some photos of the “incident” in my blog, i hope there’s no problem with this. If not, tell me!Hope aaron is fine now.it’s amazing…

  5. megan

    Thanks to everyone who posted a comment with your well-wishes! Now that there has been an outbreak of shark attacks this blog and the pictures are getting SO many views, but not that many comments. It makes me sad. I’d love to get more peoples reactions. And I thank everyone for taking the time to blog about this on their own blogs. It’s all so crazy!!!Well, I’m off to Maui for the first time since the attack…

  6. jess

    Hey Megan,So weird to find you this way! I’m Jessica who used to date your cousin Brad in high school. I just finished grad school in Utah (modern dance) and moved to North San Diego county. Was looking at stories of the shark attack here (my husband surfs at and around the beach where the attack happened…not so comforting) and found your story. Small world. So great to see you in love!and so glad he’s okay… Tell your family hello for me. take care,jess

    1. meganfinley

      oh my god!! Jessica! I think about you all the time, seriously. I am so excited you wrote to me. Man, don’t worry about your husband now, he’s got what we call “shark insurance.” Shark Insurance works like this: the odds of someone being attacked by a shark in the first place is like 1 in 300 million. What are the odds of two people who know each other being attacked by a shark? freaking astronomical! And since you know me that means your husband is safe.

  7. jeric914 thru flickr

    Great story and very well documented. I enjoyed reading it. I’m glad to see that the leg looks so good now. That’s a scar to be proud of.

  8. Andy Lester

    Hi, this is Andy and Quinn. Andy is Dad, and Quinn is 7, and I was telling her about sharks. We went searching for shark bite pictures, and we found yours.Thank you for posting your story for us to read. The pictures are kind of gross, but they’re good to see so we can know what shark bites look like.We are glad Aaron is OK!

    1. meganfinley

      Thanks Andy & Quinn, I’m glad you enjoyed the blog. The pictures are a bit gory, but that’s how shark bites go! Aaron is great and today we are having a nice Thanksgiving and as my cousin pointed out during dinner, we are thankful that Aaron still has two legs.

  9. David Cagen

    Woah. I know I haven't seen you guys in a long time, but I'm so glad to hear you're alright. What an insane thing to go through.

  10. Andree

    INCREDIBLE!!! i love that i got the story live and in person today 🙂 i'm looking forward to the Shark Ceremony blog!

  11. Donovan Lyman

    i had a run in with a mako shark while surfing once.
    cut me w/ her dorsal fin. Nothing THAT bad though.
    and no news trucks.
    That's a great scar story!

  12. Michelle

    WOW!!! TOTALLY AWESOME BLOG! Can't believe how BIG that bite is! Fantastic pictures!! Can't wait for the shark ceremony blog!

  13. Curtis

    Good lord. Google News played this story WAY the fuck down. I'm so glad Aaron is okay.

    Great blog, Megan.

    Looking at that wound makes me feel numb.

  14. Raina

    "good thing I have great insurance" HAHAHAHAHA!!!! frickin classic! aaron, you rock– love you guys!


    Oh lady. Liam told me what happened, but holy shit this is insane! I'm so glad you're both safe and standing. I have not met Aaron yet, but he's so my hero…I love that he was laughing. Congratulations on surviving and on all the wonderful parts of the trip. I'm looking forward to the more uplifting blog.

  16. megan

    Thanks Ilana! I can't believe you haven't met Shark Bait yet. You will soon, I hope, unless he gets attacked and then actually eaten by anything before that happens.

  17. 404

    What a fantastic blog. You know you have a great couple on your hands when one person is a successful writer/photographer and the other is tasty shark bait/sound engineer. That last picture is absolutely adorable of you two. You're so lucky to have him, and he's so lucky to have you; usually couples like that disgust me, but i am very very very happy for you both. xo!

  18. Morgan

    wow my sister is one amazing blog writer….even though i have heard the story 3482349823 times, reading this just made it THAT MUCH better =) haha

    …finally happy i made a comment about your damn blog??? lol

    love ya sis! =)

  19. Ken

    I haven't placed a comment yet because I'm still recovering from strolling down through the blog too quickly on an initial pass. You can't read the WARNING: THE FOLLOW PICTURES CONTAIN BONE when you're racing down the scroll highway. When I stop shuddering, I'll comment.

  20. megan

    What part of "shark attack" makes you think that there will not be any bone involved? It's a fucking shark attack man!!! We're not fucking around here! 🙂

  21. Ken

    Well, I don't know Tharpey Tharpe. I've never been involved in a shark attack. I've experienced Wiener Dog Attacks, Ferret Attacks, Darth Maul Attacks, Democrat Presidential Candidate Attacks, Drunk Farmers Market Bar Patron Attacks, Marmalade Cafe Hostess Attacks, More Ferret Attacks, and Too Many Taco Bell Tacos So Your Stomach Attacks. But never a shark attack. I thought there would be a lot of blood, but more tendon less bone. My mistake. We move on.

  22. Kimmy

    just when you set me up for a totally romantical vacation…BAM! Blood and Guts everywhere!!! ewwwwwwww!!!! Thanks goodness he's OK! Great blog! xoxo

  23. Miranda Stanberg Book

    I must say, that is quite amazing. I really love the way you put the time line together. This is exactly why I dont like going swimming in Hawaii. Thank god that was all that happened to him!!!

  24. Joe

    What a wuss! He couldn't have just walked that off? Come on!

    Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go vomit and curl up in the fetal position for the next 3 hours. Holy crap.

  25. Boone

    Holy Crap!!!! I have seen all this SHARK ATTACK info coming across the bulletins and wondered what the heck was going on. Curiosity got the best of me and now I am about to lose my breakfast! That makes for one cool story, lucky to be alive for sure. Best Wishes Meg, love how you throw the awesome photography in with the traumatic shark attack!


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  30. Rhian

    Great site, thanks so much for sharing. One question though that i’ve tried to find the answer to in your posts – how do you know it was a tiger shark that attacked him and how do you know how big it was?

    1. meganfinley

      That is a great question and I’m kicking myself for not adding that part of the story…
      Everytime someone is attacked by a shark they send over a shark expert to examine the wound, document the story for further research into why sharks bite people. Based on the size of the wound coupled with what Aaron saw was how they predicted the size. And then based on where he was in the world/ocean plus HOW the shark attacked (just one initial bite, no thrashing of the head or violently ripping) was how he came to the tiger shark conclusion.
      The best part is that after he got out of the hospital we met several locals and one who happened to be take tourists out on canoes around that area who all said they OFTEN see a huge tiger shark in that area (it’s a big hang out for sea turtles).
      Thanks for asking and I hope that helps!

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  35. Alexandra

    Holy smokes, yo! I came over from OBB to see the story. Gadzooks!
    SO glad that he’s okay & that you two had an awesome wedding!

  36. binod jha

    dear aaron……………….because doctor galpin has been my hero for abt 2 months since he came to nepal in a charity mission;i happen to come across!!!

    long live PETER !!!

  37. Freddie B

    This is a most awesome story….the way you told it make me laugh and be terrified at the same time…The fact that he kept his spirits high is an accomplishment unto itself.

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  39. Lisa

    Loved reading about it even though you tell it so well, So happy you invited us to share your shark attackiversary with you this year! It rocked, you and Aaron rock and we are so happy we met you and your bunch of crazy peeps…there’s no getting rid of us now!

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  41. Terri

    Megan, I work for the company that makes and distributes the V.A.C. I am so glad that it worked for your Aaron! And am so glad that I found your story. It was “fun” to read.

  42. Christine

    Did you know that of all people for your dad to meet on a plane, Kelsey Grammer’s brother was attacked and killed by a shark? Among many other tragedies, that was a strange coincidence for your father to be sitting with him! You are so lucky he was saved, I hope you have many happy years together and realize he must have a special purpose for being saved.

    1. meganfinley

      Wait–what!? Are you serious? That’s… so weird! Well, now I feel bad that it got brought up. 🙁

      But I feel touched by your comment. Thanks so much for stopping by and BLOWING MY MIND! 😉

  43. monica worth

    Dear Aaron:
    I’m so sorry for your shark attack here in Maui, I hope you are doing well.
    I find myself here in Maui needing some cosmetic surgery after finding extensive cancer near my eye. Dr. Peter Galpin is on board for the repair so when I googled him I found your story on line.
    My obvious question is what do you think of Dr. Galpin? It’s Feb. 11th 2012 and my surgery is for Feb. 21st. Looking forward to hearing from you. ALOHA
    Monica in Maui

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