South shore swell has city lifeguards working overtime
With the high surf, the Halona Blowhole yields a spectacular scene, but with the rough conditions over the past few days, it's been quite dangerous.
A group of five visitors learned that lesson the hard way Saturday when they walked over to the blowhole and attempted to straddle it in between sets.
Lifeguards repeatedly tried to keep them away from the area, but the warnings were ignored.
"A couple of them went further out to the ledge when we had probably one of the bigger sets of the day come and just wash over the entire point," said lifeguard Aka Tamashiro, who was on-duty at Sandy Beach Park. "We thought everybody got washed away and we noticed one in particular. It looks like he got washed directly down into the blowhole."
Fortunately, no one actually slid into the crevasse, like California visitor Daniel Dick did in 2002.
He died after falling in head first and officials found the 20-year-old's body the next day.
That could've easily happened this weekend since lifeguards say the men may have been drinking.
"They both just got shredded up across the whole front side of them from the rocks, which is, compared to getting sucked into the blowhole, he really got off easy, but he's going to have those scars for life," Tamashiro said.
The swell has been just as massive out in Waikiki, but not enough to stop the T & C Surf grom contest.
However, organizers have taken extra precautions since the contest features nearly 300 kids, some as young as three years old.
"We've never seen this amount of swell for our event, so what we've done is we've really moved the kids inside to Baby Queen's and even inside of Baby Queen's," said Adam Borrello, one of the contest's organizers. "There's a lot of current and we've got a pretty solid swell out there."
Since Friday afternoon, City & County of Honolulu Ocean Safety has made nearly 400 rescues on the south shore alone and lifeguards say they've been saving people at every level.
"Experienced, inexperienced, seasoned veteran, visitor, everybody...we've all been getting donuts over here," Tamashiro said. "Everybody's been needing help. The ocean really isn't discriminating"
The conditions are expected to subside by Wednesday. Until then, beach goers are still advised to read the signs and listen to lifeguards.