Popular Waikiki beach loses its lifeguards - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Popular Waikiki beach loses its lifeguards

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Andrew Kaufman Andrew Kaufman
John Jefferis John Jefferis
Bill Kearsley Bill Kearsley
Vance Oliver Vance Oliver

By Duane Shimogawa bio | email

WAIKIKI (KHNL) - The next time you go to Fort DeRussy Beach in Waikiki, don't be surprised if you, don't see any lifeguards there.

The Army can no longer afford paying for lifeguard services at Fort DeRussy Beach, as it looks to cut costs and provide necessary improvements at the Hale Koa Hotel and its sister properties.

It's known as a premiere R and R destination for our country's military personnel.

But without lifeguard services for the first time in 50 years, many are worried it may keep them away from this premiere destination.

"They perform a real valuable service to the people who are on the beach, people might be more inclined to come here, knowing there's someone there to watch over them," Beachgoer Andrew Kaufman said.

Hotel managers at the Hale Koa Hotel say that less than 10 percent of lifeguard resources are for authorized guests here or anyone holding a military ID.

"It was an issue that the Army, reviewing our budget said we really can't afford to use our soldier dollars to spend that money and provide the service to the public that we have for so many years," Hale Koa Hotel manager John Jefferis said.

Lifeguards here will not lose their jobs. Instead they'll be integrated into the hotel's pool complex work rotation.

As a courtesy, the hotel has paid for lifeguard services at the beach, which cost around 180-thousand dollars a year.

"It's an unfortunate situation, you'd think that the health and safety of our soldiers would think that the health and safety of our soldiers would come first, a first priority, not come last," Fort DeRussy Beach lifeguard and union representative Bill Kearsley said.

Hale Koa Hotel managers say they're going to talk to City and County of Honolulu officials to come up with a risk assessment for the beach fronting the hotel. It's still too early to tell if any lifeguards will ever man Fort DeRussy Beach again.

"The State funds lifeguards around the rest of the island, I don't see why it should be left up to the resources of the Hale Koa," Beachgoer Vance Oliver said. "Someone's gonna need to review that and re-think that because I mean, there's a responsibility here to the public, it's such a beautiful beach, gosh, you wouldn't want any disasters."

The changes will take effect October 1st after the busy summer season.