Stab Magazine | Dad shoves board in shark’s mouth; saves five kids

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Dad shoves board in shark’s mouth; saves five kids

Story by Lucas Townsend  Today in emasculating stories: Kaleo Roberson saved his three kids and two of their friends yesterday from a 15-foot tiger shark while surfing in Maui. Kaleo was pushing his kids, Steve (six) and twins Justin and Eric (eight) into waves at Maalaea Freight Trains, which breaks roughly 100 metres from shore […]

news // Mar 8, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Story by Lucas Townsend 

Today in emasculating stories: Kaleo Roberson saved his three kids and two of their friends yesterday from a 15-foot tiger shark while surfing in Maui. Kaleo was pushing his kids, Steve (six) and twins Justin and Eric (eight) into waves at Maalaea Freight Trains, which breaks roughly 100 metres from shore and on this day, was totally unbefitting of its name.

The ocean was murky after Hurricane Ana passed by the Hawaiian islands and dumped heavy rains. Waiting for a set at the right pointbreak, Kaleo held one of his twins in his right arm, ready to push him into his next ride when he noticed the water in the channel splitting fast and swirling. It was then he instantly knew his family was in serious danger: “Lucky for me I was looking at the channel, and not at the waves. If I’d been blindsided I’d be dead right now, and probably the kids, too.”

Reckon Kaleo's gonna get sick of re-telling this story? Photo: Chris Sugidono / The Maui News

Reckon Kaleo’s gonna get sick of re-telling this story? Photo: Chris Sugidono / The Maui News

“I saw the water splitting in a weird way from the channel and saw the shark coming,” he said. “It was 20 feet away and came with its mouth open. At first I thought it was a whale shark. It was as big as a trash can, you could’ve easily fit Kai Borg down its mouth. It was so up-close-and-personal I didn’t even see the whole thing. All I could see was four feet down its throat, its tonsils, its tongue, everything. It was so wild.”

“My oldest twin was in my right hand and I shoved my board in the shark’s mouth with my other hand. It spat it out and I started screaming, real loud and gnarly, it was like a battle cry, something just came over me. I used my board as a weapon and whacked it twice, and then it turned so hard it hit me with its tail, boom! My son was already paddling away and it shoved me so far I almost caught up to him.”

A two-mile stretch of sand was shut down by officials after the attack, and a search remains underway for the shark responsible. Experts measured the bite marks in Kaleo’s board and, knowing the nature of the attack, were certain it was a tiger shark.

Kaleo said the shark’s teeth didn’t go through his new Mayhem board because it was made of Keahana epoxy: “The epoxy is so hard it stunned the shark, f’sure.” Wearing a new pair of Volcom trunks, Kaleo believed their bright blue colouring mimicked a lure and the shark went straight for them. He also learned that earlier that morning a surfer was chased in by a shark from the same line-up.

Photo: Chris Sugidono / The Maui News

The kids are alright. Photo: Chris Sugidono / The Maui News

The Roberson brothers are well-known on Maui as a promising trio of surfers. They’re named after Maui legends Steve Cooney, Justin Roberson and Eric Diaz. Having lived on the island his entire life, Kaleo said he’s never seen a shark in the water but believed the timing of the attack was synonymous with others in years prior.

As if those heroics weren’t enough, also in the water was a photographer, Pataoa, who Kaleo paddled in with on his back: “The kids had boards so they’d headed in and this 200 pound, short Hawaiian jumps on my back and wouldn’t let go. I’m on my 6’3” brand new …Lost board, and he’s so scared he’s locked up. He can’t kick, swim, paddle… nothing. I get him two feet from the beach and I’m like, Okay bra, we’re here, get off. He’s like no, no, I can’t… It was fucken funny, even during such a gnarly situation we had to laugh.”

Shark conversations are, understandably, a don’t-go-there topic under the Roberson roof, as Kaleo tries to restore the boys confidence in the ocean: “I don’t want them to be scared and not surfing anymore. We’re going to wait until the water clears.”

“We had some angels watching over us yesterday, f’sure.”

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