A popular Pipeline big-wave surfer died Sunday on the North Shore after he was bitten by a shark while surfing during a break from his city life-guarding shift.

City officials identified the man as Tamayo Perry, 49. Perry, who had been surfing in the waters off Goat Island, also known as Mokuauia, at the Malaeka­hana State Recreation Area near Laie, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Honolulu police, the Honolulu Fire Department and Honolulu Ocean Safety responded to a call about Perry just before 1 p.m.

Shayne Enright, spokesperson for the Honolulu Emergency Medical Services and Honolulu Ocean Safety, said, “A caller told dispatchers the man’s body appeared to have suffered more than one shark bite.”

Enright said lifeguards brought Perry’s body to shore via personal watercraft; onshore EMS paramedics assisted in the death pronouncement.

Perry, who was born and raised on Oahu, surfed professionally for over 15 years and in 1999 won the prestigious Pipeline Master trials. He became a lifeguard for the City and County of Honolulu in 2016, and ran a Kahuku-based surf school, the Oahu Surfing Experience, with his wife, Emilia Perry, who is from Western Australia, where she competed as a professional bodyboarder.

On the Oahu Surfing Experience website, Tamayo Perry described himself as a devoted waterman who had “gained a tremendous amount of knowledge, not only from what I’ve accomplished, but also from what I’ve suffered.”

Perry had skirted death before, according to his biography on his website.

“A number of years ago while surfing Pipeline on the extra large size, I was involved in a freak accident that turned into a near-fatal experience. The incident happened all because of someone else’s lack of awareness,” he said. “The lessons I’ve taken from that event have inspired me to my goal of instilling proper surf etiquette and safety into those whom I teach.”

He also recalled competing in the Pipeline Masters Trials.

“In 1999, I was launched on to the world stage when winning the prestigious Pipeline Master trials,” Perry’s bio said. “This allowed me a spot in the main event where I was able to upset the No. 1 World Title Contender, showcasing my skills in some of the biggest, rawest wave conditions the Pipe Masters competition has ever seen.”

According to his bio, Perry also was featured on multiple film and TV shows including “Blue Crush,” “Lost” and “Hawaii Five-0.” He also appeared in ad campaigns for Nissan Xterra that aired during the NFL playoffs and the Winter Olympics, and a commercial for Coca-Cola.

Perry’s family and friends were gathered at the scene but requested privacy. City officials, however, held a late- afternoon news conference.

Honolulu Ocean Safety Acting Chief Kurt Lager said during the news conference that Perry was well known on the North Shore and as a professional surfer worldwide.

“Tamayo’s personality was infectious, and as much as people loved him, he loved everyone else more,” Lager said.

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi, who spoke at the news conference, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that he rushed to Malaeka­hana Beach upon hearing the news.

“This was a tragic event. It’s the kind of call that you hate to get as a mayor. He was loved and respected by the Honolulu Ocean Safety Team, and I couldn’t get out here fast enough,” Blangiardi said.

Blangiardi later issued a statement saying: “Tamayo Perry, an eight-year veteran of Ocean Safety and well-known North Shore waterman, exemplified bravery, commitment and a deep sense of duty, serving our community with unwavering dedication. His heroic actions and tireless efforts to ensure the safety of our residents and visitors will never be forgotten.

“As we grieve this unimaginable loss, we are reminded of the inherent risks faced by our lifeguards daily, and we extend our deepest gratitude for their service,” Blangiardi said. “The City and County of Honolulu stands with our Ocean Safety community and will provide all necessary support during this period of mourning. We ask the community to join us in honoring his memory and to keep his loved ones in your thoughts and prayers.”

Former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann said, “Our heartfelt sympathies and prayers go out to Emilia and the Perry ohana over the tragic loss of one of the state’s finest professional waterman and courageous first responders. My cousins Tau and Max knew him well from their days at Kahuku and as part of their experience as one of Honolulu’s finest lifeguards.”

Shark warning signs have been posted at the Malaekahana State Recreation Area warning the public to stay out of the water.

Enright said following the news conference that officials “cannot recall the last fatal shark bite in this area.”

Anna Pleasant, a frequent visitor to the Malaekahana State Recreation Area, said she saw many surfers frolicking in the water Sunday. Pleasant said she was surprised and saddened to hear of the attack.

“It’s unusual,” Pleasant said. “I like to swim in the deep water here, but I’ll be more cautious.”

Jocelyn Vigil, who was with a group at Malaekahana State Recreation Area on Sunday, said she was swimming at about 5:30 p.m. when her friend Brittney England rushed over to tell her to get out of the water because there had been a fatal shark bite incident.

“I understand the need to protect the scene, but they should have been more diligent and transparent,” she said. “I got out when I found out.”

England, who is into scuba and other water sports, said the group was saddened to hear of Perry’s death.

“It’s kind of sad to know that someone died right here,” she said from a spot on the beach with a view of Goat Island. “But we do understand that sharks live in the water and we are visiting their area.”


Star-Advertiser staff member Diane S.W. Lee contributed to this story.

Read More: World News | Entertainment News | Celeb News
Star Ads

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

Shane Warne Net Worth, Death, Wiki, Biography, Age, Wife, Children, Parents, and More.

$ 50 Million This blog is about the legendary cricketer Shane Warne’s…

Man, 76, sent to hospital after near drowning at Hanauma Bay

A 76-year-old man is in serious condition after nearly drowning at Hanauma…

Lifeguards rescue 4 kayakers in trouble near Mokuluas

NINA WU / NWU@STARADVERTISER.COM A view of the Mokulua Islands. City lifeguards…

Title time for Oahu’s best paddling

Mahalo for supporting Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story! As outrigger canoe…