Animal Attack Files Special Report Animal Attack Files
forwarded by AAF Correspondent: Jim Morris

Honolulu Star-Bulletin Online

Tourists wary in wake of latest shark attack

Thursday, April 1, 1999


Staff Writer

KAANAPALI -- Beneath the tranquil scene of beachgoers enjoying Dig-Me Beach on Prince Kuhio Day was a greater respect for, if not fear of, the dangers in waters off West Maui.

Among a handful of visitors interviewed Friday by The Maui News, all had heard the horrific tale of the March 18 shark attack involving kayaker Manouchehr Monazzami-Taghadomi's new bride, Nahid Davoodabai.

That tragedy coupled with the March 5 shark attack on 29-year-old Robyne Knutson, who was bitten in her thigh, left Pavel and Martina Sticha, a couple from Berlin, wary of venturing far from shore.

``It was a little bit dangerous for us,'' said Martina Sticha, 35. ``We don't want to go snorkeling.''

She said that in the seven or eight times she's visited Maui, this is the first time she's been afraid of sharks or going into the water.

Orbie Cutsinger, a 76-year-old resident of Ojai, Calif., said he's familiar with sharks, living as he does near the Santa Barbara Channel, and knows attacks are rare.

``You're safer in the ocean than you are in the airplane that brings you over here,'' he said.

Marc Radi, a 32-year-old San Diego resident, said he had heard about the kayak incident before he left home.

He said one of his co-workers warned him not to take a kayak trip here, and he doesn't plan to.

Jeff Lund, a 22-year-old Seattle resident who has gone scuba diving off Maui on previous trips here, said he's not concerned about shark attacks if he takes common-sense precautions like staying away from mouths of streams and not venturing out too far.

Lund said that while businesses renting kayak gear should warn customers about potential hazards such as adverse weather conditions, he doesn't blame Extreme Sports Maui for the incident involving Monazzami and his wife.

``There's a lot of naive people that don't respect the ocean,'' Lund said.

Monazzami has maintained that he and his wife were not adequately warned about forecasted wind and sea conditions although he asked about the weather.

Extreme Sports Maui issued a news release Thursday expressing deep regret about Monazzami's tragic loss. But the statement maintained that Monazzami was told about a high surf and strong wind advisory.

``He was instructed to kayak in a sheltered area away from the wind and to remain close to shore. In addition, Mr. Monazzami signed a rental agreement explaining the dangers in detail associated with strong wind and surf conditions related to water activities on the island of Maui,'' the news release says.

James Krueger, one of Maui's top personal injury attorneys, said last week that someone on behalf of Monazzami had contacted his office. The attorney said he had not yet studied the facts of the kayak incident. But from news accounts, Extreme Sports may face some liability if a kayak was rented to Monazzami with pending adverse weather conditions and no directions as to where or where not to go, he said.

A key element in fastening liability is whether an adverse or dangerous condition was foreseeable, Krueger said.

Krueger also said those who rent equipment like kayaks to customers have a duty to inquire about their experience and expertise and to provide them with information and training sufficient to do an activity safely.

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