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Honolulu Star-Bulletin Online

National media clamor over kayak story

Thursday, April 1, 1999


WAILUKU -- Police are fielding national media inquiries about the disappearance of a California woman whose husband reported she was attacked by a shark as they were kayaking in waters off Maui nearly two weeks ago.

While no longer actively searching for Nahid Davoodabai, 29, of Sunnyvale, Calif., detectives are continuing to investigate the case, said Capt. Victor Tengan of the Maui Police Department Criminal Investigation Division.

The woman's husband, Manouchehr Monazzami-Taghadomi, 39, told police the shark bit off his wife's left arm March 18 after wind and waves swept their rented kayak out to sea after they launched it from the Lahaina side of the pali.

The woman died from blood loss, according to her husband, and when a wave overturned the kayak, he was unable to hang on to her body. Monazzami and the kayak landed on a beach at Kahoolawe. Naked except for a life vest, he eventually made his way to a bunker containing a recently installed telephone, which he used to call for help three days later.

Monazzami left Maui over the weekend after being released from Maui Memorial Medical Center and returning to Kahoolawe with detectives to retrace the route he took from the beach to the telephone, Tengan said.

``We have got just what he's told us,'' Tengan said. ``We have nothing to lead us to believe otherwise.'' He said police are still examining a blue life jacket, similar to one used by Davoodabai, that washed ashore on Kahoolawe last Wednesday along with a second set of oars possibly from the kayak. Both were found in the same general shoreline area where the kayak was recovered, Tengan said. Workers on the former bombing target island called police after finding the items.

Tengan said police have not found Davoodabai's body. Rumors to the contrary surfaced after a 41-year-old woman who may have drowned was pulled from waters fronting the Maui Prince Hotel in Makena on Monday morning.

Davoodabai's body could still surface, Tengan said, despite the time that has passed since her husband reported her missing.

He said police have received telephone calls seeking information about the investigation from media in the San Jose-San Francisco area where the couple lived, as well as from the National Enquirer, television programs ``Inside Edition'' and ``Extra'' and Tom Brokaw of NBC. In his five years as head of CID, Tengan said, other cases have received media attention. ``None drew as much media hysteria as this one,'' he said.

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