Lifeguards removed at popular Waikiki beach

Chris Forbes
Chris Forbes
Frank Fortuna
Frank Fortuna

By Duane Shimogawa - bio | email

WAIKIKI (KHNL) - For the first time in 50 years, Fort DeRussy Beach in Waikiki is without lifeguards Thursday. The Army says it can no longer afford to pay for lifeguard services there.

The signs at the beach tell the story.

From Thursday on, beachgoers will now have to swim without the watchful eyes of lifeguards. The Army says it cost almost half a million dollars each year to have lifeguards at Fort DeRussy Beach. It just couldn't foot the bill anymore.

"Those resources will now be used to provide quality of life programs for U.S. military personnel at the Hale Koa Hotel or at the other armed forces recreation centers around the world," Hale Koa Hotel marketing director Chris Forbes said.

The Army also says only about 10 percent of the incidents that lifeguards responded to here involved military personnel or their families.

But most beachgoers and hotel guests feel lifeguards are a must.

"There are a lot of children there because of Fort DeRussy, they're not only military children, but they're children, local children too, so far their safety, you'd think there would be a concern," Hotel guest Frank Fortuna said.

The Army says no lifeguards will be laid off. Instead, they'll be re-assigned to the pool area. But the union representing the lifeguards says some part-timers and on-call workers may quit because their hours are being cut.

The state holds responsibility for the beach, but they say they can't afford to put lifeguards there. The city says they've responded to incidents there before and will continue to when they're called.