By Brooks Baehr - bio | email
WAIMEA BAY (HawaiiNewsNow) – Nine days after being almost killed by a wipeout while surfing Waimea Bay, accomplished amateur Derrick Mirikitani returned to thank the lifeguards and paramedics who saved his life.
"What they've done was heroic and absolutely fantastic," Mirikitani said.
The emergency responders shared their memories of the dramatic rescue, then retrieved Mirikitani's surfboard from storage where it had been kept since his wipeout January 16.
With his board in hand Mirikitani contemplated getting back into the water and riding the wave that almost killed him.
"I was thinking of going for a surf, really. The waves were breaking outside, so why not," Mirikitani said.
Without hesitation Mirikitani and fellow surfer and friend Robin Bond waxed up their boards and paddled out to the break.
It was not big Waimea, just 10 to 12 footers at best breaking at a spot in the bay called "Pinballs."
The fact that the waves were not as big as Mirikitani and Bond would have liked did not matter. "I'm going to get to go surfing again and you know most people, they might not have that chance. So it was good for me in that I'm lucky to be able to at least be able to do this again," Mirikitani told Hawaii News Now.
The two waited at least 15 minutes in the line-up for just the right moment. Then Mirikitani paddled into his first Waimea wave since his near fatal wipeout.
"I think it's significant in the sense that I'm just able to do this and I've survived to surf again," Mirikitani said.
"There might be family members sitting in hospital rooms waiting to see if somebody is going to come back to life, and they hear this. Maybe it gives them a sense of hope that they are not lost and that miracles do happen," Bond added.
Relive the rescue, the reunion with lifeguards, and watch Mirikitani catch that first wave by watching the video on this web page.