MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Minnesota man says he is lucky to be in one piece after a close call with a 14-foot tiger shark.

Matt Mason and his wife, Beth, were paddle-boarding in Hawaii Saturday morning when something suddenly started pushing his board through the water.

The Chanhassen man turned around and saw that a shark had bitten onto the back of his board.

“I felt something hit the back of my board and I thought it was her just ramming me,” Matt said.

Beth said it looked like some sort of prank at first.

“The first thing I thought was this was some kid with something on his head, like out of ‘Jaws,'” Beth said.

Then things took a sudden and dangerous turn.

“I remember I yelled ‘shark’ three times, but I think my voice was probably a little higher,” Matt said. “He kind of dove and twisted so it threw me over. My back ended up landing on the shark’s back. The whole time my wife is behind me yelling, ‘Hit him! Hit him!’ So I did.”

Beth’s instructions were spot on.

“I just told him to hit it. You’re supposed to hit them in the face so I was trying to give him advice from behind,” she said.

He punched the shark before going underwater. When he came up, the shark was gone — but the fear was not. He swam to his paddleboard, which was about five yards away.

“It seemed like an aircraft carrier. It represented that much safety to me,” Matt said.

Matt & Beth Mason (credit: The Mason Family)

Matt & Beth Mason (credit: The Mason Family)

Matt saw the bite marks on his board when he got back to shore.

“The DNR guy measured it and said it was about a 14-inch bite radius. A 14-foot tiger shark is what he said,” Matt said.

He ended up buying the board from the rental company, but has no plans to bring it back to Hawaii.

“Glad to be home. Can’t wait to use the board on Lake Minnetonka where I just have to worry about the boats,” he said.

The Hawaii DNR closed that beach the rest of Saturday. There was a report of another person being attacked by a tiger shark earlier in the day.

The DNR told Matt attacks like that are rare — even rarer because he did not get bitten during the attack.

Matt is still rattled, but feels extremely lucky.

The Four Seasons Hotel ended up buying Matt new sunglasses after he lost his pair in the attack. The hotel also paid for his drinks and meals that Saturday.

John Lauritsen

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