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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - For the first time, we hear from one of the teens who got swept into the ocean off the Big Island.
Matthew Alzate has now been hospitalized for a week - much of that in critical condition. But now, he is up and talking and has reunited with the man who pulled him from the water. Fifteen-year-old Alzate doesn't remember much from that day, but he knows kayak guide Ola Reed helped pull him from the dangerous surf.
"I can see your feet, man, your battle scars," Reed told Matthew as he walked into the boy's hospital room. The Miami teen is recovering at the Queen's Medical Center. Doctors put a bar and bolts through his right leg. He can't put weight on it yet and uses crutches to get around, but Matthew knows it could have been much worse. "I'm a lot better than when I came in 'cause, from what I heard, I was almost dead," the teen says.
On July 4, a huge, freak wave carried Matthew and fellow camper, Tyler Madoff, into the sea near the rocky tidepools of Kealakekua bay. They were part of a teen adventure group called Bold Earth. Bold Earth had subcontracted kayaks and two guides out from Hawaii Pack and Paddle. Reed, who works for the kayak company, jumped in to help rescue Matthew - who was facedown in the water.
"It was just an unexplained event that happened, and literally, in that moment, you know, it was either a rise to the occasion or run away and hide," explains Reed. He declined to answer questions about where Tyler Madoff was when he was holding Matthew in the water after they got swept out - or what the two Bold Earth counselors were doing at the time of the incident. Hawaii Pack and Paddle and Bold Earth are at odds over who's to blame for taking the campers to that location.
Matthew is just happy Reed was there to help rescue him - as are the boy's parents who are by his bedside as he recovers. Matthew coughs and says, "When I was walking down the stairs, I would take 5 steps, and I would try to stop to catch my breath." He goes to physical therapy daily. There's no date set yet for his release from the hospital. Matthew's injuries may take a while to heal but from all accounts, he's lucky to be alive.