How to survive a shark attack with a smile
Story by Morgan Williamson It’s been four days since Braxton “Sharkboy” Rocha broke the internet with his selfie video documenting his freshly lacerated knee and shin courtesy of a Tiger shark. The 27 year-old Kapaa man was spearfishing with his friend when he got chomped. I gave Braxton a call. In his hospital bed he […]
Story by Morgan Williamson
It’s been four days since Braxton “Sharkboy” Rocha broke the internet with his selfie video documenting his freshly lacerated knee and shin courtesy of a Tiger shark. The 27 year-old Kapaa man was spearfishing with his friend when he got chomped.
I gave Braxton a call. In his hospital bed he answers and I can feel a smile coming through my phone’s receiver. “Mahalo brother,” he says. I hear a little girl enter the room. She brings him a gift. He thanks her sweetly turning all his attention away from me to shows his gratitude towards the child. “Today’s the first day I can actually feel pain,” Braxton tells me as the little girl leaves the room. “My leg’s good though. The doctor says I should make a full recovery and it’ll be mended back together in three weeks!”
The amount of technology flowing through the aftermath of the attack brought me to getting into contact with Braxton. I wanted to hear the story, the pitfalls and dilemmas of having a serious injury without healthcare. But mostly I was curious what kind of person takes a selfie video looking content, almost amused and then posts it to social media while clearly bleeding out? Is this really where we are at now in our immediate society? Must everything be uploaded to Facebook and Instagram? This is where we live now…
Our dialog slips into the event leading up to the video. “I was a bit too far out,” Braxton calmly tells me. “I dropped down to check out this cave. When I came up to catch my breath all I saw was a big shadow of stripes. I knew that something bad was going to happen. As quickly as I saw her, she disappeared. I started back paddling towards shore trying to get away from her. The current was so strong it kept pulling me out. I had to turn around and make a swim to shore. I made a couple quick kicks and paddles. In my head I knew the commotion would attract the shark. Next thing I saw was her right in front of me with jaws wide open. She pretty much had my whole leg in her mouth.”
Braxton managed to get himself to shore. He was certain that would be the last he saw of his leg. He yelled and shouted for his friend, “I didn’t want him to get attacked, I was trying to get his attention. There was no pain, I was in shock,” he tells me. When his friend got to shore he got Braxton up the beach and into a tourniquet in an attempt to control the bleeding. “I grabbed my phone,” Mr Rocha says. “I was trying to call my mom and dad, neither answered. My phone was on three percent. I didn’t have any intentions on taking a video until I couldn’t reach them. I thought I was going to die! And my phone was going to die at any second. So I took a video and posted it to my Facebook. It was the quickest way to let my family know what happened.” All my preconceived notions are thwarted, damn that was smart.
You see dear Braxton here doesn’t have health insurance. “My auntie set me up a gofundme account to try and help,” he says. But even if he had health insurance the sum of money he’d be expected to pay after his extended stay in a hospital bed, surgery, rehab, drugs and the heli-ride will be astronomical. America’s healthcare system’s fucked. Earlier this year I was charged 200 dollars for a temporary cast. Which I wore for two days. That was knocked off about a grand and that’s with premium health insurance, which is just ludicrous. Anyone who’s ever been injured or seriously ill in America can sympathize with Braxton’s pain. “I’m in between work and the bills are really hard on me and my family,” he goes on. “I’m overwhelmed by all the love and support I’ve been getting. The evacuation helicopter ride was ten grand in itself.” Throughout the past three days over 200 people have raised a little over nine thousand dollars to help with his medical bills. There’s hope in humanity after all!
To donate to Braxton’s cause head here.
Tiger sharks will fuck you up. Photo: Braxton ‘Sharkboy’ Rocha.
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