Ocean safety & lifeguard services rescued five people this weekend along the North & West Shores. Officials say that small number is a direct result of all the pro-active measures they take – more than 2,800 preventive actions this weekend alone, or what they describe as "rescues that never happen".
Hazardous ocean conditions are to blame for a pair of drownings in Kauai. Officials say 47-year-old Brian Baker was swept into the water near Kalihiwai Bay Friday. His friend, 46-year-old Adam Griffiths, went in after him. Both men, who were visiting from California, died. Only Griffiths body has been recovered. Emergency crews returned to the area today to continue their search for Baker.
"The reality is that for visitors -- drowning is the leading cause of death in the state of Hawaii," said Chief Jim Howe of the City & County of Honolulu's Ocean Safety & Lifeguard Services. Chief Howe says the tragic situation is all too common.
"How are you going to stand by and watch someone you know or love perish in front of your eyes?" asked Chief Howe, before adding – "But the reality is if you're not very highly trained and you're not extremely skilled in the ocean conditions we have here the likelihood is that you will perish as well."
A Big Island father died last September trying to save his young son who was playing in a tide pool when he was suddenly carried out to sea. His son was rescued, but 34-year-old Chris Broussard drowned.
"I can't tell people what to do other than not to allow yourself to be put in that terrible situation where you're going to have to make that kind of decision," said Chief Howe. "Avoid it completely and there's many things here in Hawaii to help you with that."
Chief Howe says both experienced locals and first-time visitors to the islands should be checking the Hawaii beach safety web site—"Lifeguard 24/7". It's updated every four hours with hazard conditions for practically every beach in the state. Experts say its crucial you check it any and every time you plan to be near the water.
"Our oceans here— the waves & the conditions here—are the most powerful, the roughest that you're going to find anywhere in the world," said Howe.
"Lifeguard 24/7": www.HawaiiBeachSafety.org