Local Filmmaker Wins Prestigious Carnegie Medal for Saving Shark-Attack Victim’s Life

Keoni Bowthorpe saved surfer Colin Cook in Hale‘iwa while fending off an aggressive tiger shark for the 150-yard paddle to shore.
Tiger Shark


He almost didn’t hear the cry for help. But Keoni Bowthorpe, a filmmaker out for a morning stand-up paddle session to clear his head, glimpsed a surreal sight 200 yards out to sea: a surfer being thrown into the air and dragged under. With no one else around at the North Shore break Leftovers, Bowthorpe paddled toward Colin Cook as the surfer wrestled himself onto his board, despite the tiger shark hanging onto his leg.


Bowthorpe’s unhesitating courage in going to Cook’s aid on Oct. 9, 2015 was just the beginning of his ongoing struggle with the aggressive and persistent shark and an unforgiving clock as he fought to bring the grievously injured Cook to shore before he bled out. The Hale‘iwa resident and father of three won hearts and media attention, including this story that appeared shortly after in HONOLULU.


Today, Sept. 28, the 34-year-old joins rarified company—the 72 people awarded the Carnegie Medal this year, three of them posthumous. The Carnegie Hero Medal Fund recognizes heroes each year throughout the U.S. and Canada. We offer our own congratulations to Keoni and also to courageous survivor Colin Cook, who joined his rescuer for some North Shore diving not long ago. From the day of the attack, both men have been outspoken on the need to preserve shark populations from finning and other depredations.


Read about the shark attack and rescue here.