'Miracle' rescue at Waimea Bay

By Brooks Baehr - bio | email

WAIMEA BAY (HawaiiNewsNow) – Veteran North Shore lifeguards are calling it the best rescue of their careers.

Local surfer Derrick Mirikitani, an accomplished 31 year old amateur from Oahu, wiped out at Waimea Bay, Sunday, January 16. He was knocked unconscious and held under water by the pounding 15 foot swells.

A team of lifeguard pulled Mirikitani from the water and began CPR. They pumped his chest for more than 20 minutes and shocked him twice with an automated external defibrillator. Mirikitani's heart eventually began to beat and breathing was restored.

Paramedics rushed Mirikitani to Wahiawa General Hospital where he made a miraculous recovery. He was discharged from the hospital after just four days.

"Truly a miracle. I've been involved in multiple resuscitation cases over my career down here at Waimea Bay for the past 20 years, and never have I seen such a miraculous recovery," said Kerry Atwood, a city lifeguard at Waimea.

"This is the best save of my career for sure. All the doctors are claiming miracle," added fellow veteran lifeguard Abe Lerner.

Honolulu paramedic Jeff Hughes said, "It's amazing. I mean, that's a Hollywood ending. That's what it is."

Photographer Franco Tramontano, who runs a surf web site called hawaiianswell.com, was at Waimea January 16. He shot thousands of images including Mirikitani's wipeout.

With the use of Tramontano's photographs and first person accounts from Hughes and lifeguards Atwood, Lerner, Mark Dombroski, Andrew Logreco, Mike Jutt, and Jeff Okuyama, Hawaii News Now was able to document the inspiring rescue.

"I'm definitely grateful for what they've done and always will be," said Mirikitani.

Watch Hawaii News Now Thursday night at 10 pm as Mirikitani goes back to the bay to thank his lifesavers and contemplate a return to the surf spot that almost claimed his life.

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