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Monday, July 15, 2024 | Back issues
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Surfing icon Tamayo Perry killed in shark encounter

In addition to surfing and lifeguarding, Perry has appeared in ad campaigns, movies and television series.

HONOLULU (CN) — A shark attack killed renowned surfer and lifeguard Tamayo Perry off Oahu's North Shore on Sunday, shocking Hawaii's tight-knit surfing community and prompting beach closures.

Perry, 49, died after encountering a shark while surfing near Goat Island during a break from his lifeguard duties, Honolulu Emergency Services Department officials said. The attack occurred around midday, drawing a swift response from local authorities.

“At this time, we can confirm that it was one of our own City and County of Honolulu lifeguards, North Shore Lifeguard Tamayo Perry,” Honolulu Ocean Safety Chief Kurt Lager said in a news conference.

"Tamayo Perry was a lifeguard loved by all. He was well-known on the North Shore. He’s a professional surfer known worldwide. Tamayo’s personality was infectious and as much as people loved him, he loved everyone else more. Our condolences go out to Tamayo’s family and to the entire lifeguard ohana."

Perry, a veteran lifeguard with Honolulu Ocean Safety since 2016, was also a respected surf coach and Pipeline Masters Trials competitor. His prowess in the water extended beyond competition, having appeared in the 2002 surf film "Blue Crush" and episodes of popular TV shows like "Hawaii Five-O" and "The Bridge."

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi praised Perry at a press conference as a "well-known North Shore waterman" who "exemplified bravery, commitment and a deep sense of duty."

The mayor added: "His heroic actions and tireless efforts to ensure the safety of our residents and visitors will never be forgotten."

Perry's influence reached beyond Hawaii's shores. He featured in national ad campaigns for Nissan Xterra during NFL playoffs and Winter Olympics broadcasts, as well as a commercial for Coca-Cola. His appearances in "Lost" and other productions further cemented his status as a recognizable figure in Hawaii's entertainment landscape.

Emergency responders, including Honolulu police, fire department, and ocean safety personnel, rushed to the popular surfing area just before 1 p.m. Perry was pronounced dead at the scene, having suffered multiple shark bites.

In response to the tragedy, officials posted shark warning signs and closed Malaekahana State Recreation Area to swimmers until Monday.

Perry's family has requested privacy. But his death resonates deeply within Hawaii's surfing and lifeguard communities, where Perry was a respected figure known for his skill and dedication to ocean safety.

Fatal shark encounters are rare in Hawaii despite the state's vibrant beach culture. Experts emphasized shark attacks on humans are uncommon, often resulting from cases of mistaken identity rather than targeted aggression.

As investigations into the incident continue, local authorities urge beachgoers to remain vigilant and adhere to posted warnings. The tragedy underscores the importance of ocean safety awareness and the vital role played by lifeguards like Perry in protecting Hawaii's residents and visitors.

Perry's legacy as a surfer, lifeguard, and community figure serves as a poignant reminder of both the beauty and the potential dangers of Hawaii's renowned waters. Many in the North Shore community will remember Perry for his contributions to surfing culture and his unwavering commitment to keeping others safe in the ocean he loved.

Categories / Environment, National

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