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Death cheated by surf clan

June 08, 2004

Re "Brand Bethany" (June 1): I enjoyed your article but feel you shortchanged those who saved her.

Surfer Bethany Hamilton was in shock after being attacked [by a tiger shark on Oct. 31, 2003, in Hawaii]. My son, Holt, was first to reach her, just in front of my grandson Byron.

Byron, 15, held onto Bethany and her board as Holt pushed them into a wave. My granddaughter Alana, 13, fearing her best friend would die, paddled alongside.

Holt caught up with them at the reef, where he used his rash guard to slow the bleeding.

He then had Bethany hang onto the top of his swim trunks as he towed her more than a quarter-mile to shore, Byron and Alana paddling alongside.

It was only then that Holt realized his children were in danger of a second attack and sent them ahead for an ambulance.

Once on shore, Holt used a surf leash as a tourniquet.

It was weeks later that any of them could sleep without terrible nightmares.

Alana, a champion surfer herself, is still unable to return to Tunnels to surf.

Bill Blanchard


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