Kauai ocean safety officials report “close calls” during super swell

Lumahai River Mouth - Image: Jock Goodman
Lumahai River Mouth - Image: Jock Goodman

LIHUE, KAUAI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Lifeguards and firefighters were kept busy on the North Shore Wednesday during an exceptionally intense north swell.

Ocean safety officials report that an 87-year-old Washington man was sitting high above the water's edge at Kee Beach at around 4:30 p.m., when a powerful wave washed ashore and swept him roughly 20 yards down the beach.

He was trapped in the pounding surf along the rocky shoreline, when an off-duty county lifeguard noticed the man in distress and rushed to his rescue. The lifeguard was able to reach the victim and bring him safely to shore before strong currents pulled him out too far.

The man suffered multiple abrasions and initially refused medical treatment, but the concerned lifeguard insisted on driving the victim to Wilcox Hospital for a medical evaluation.

Firefighters from the Hanalei station also reported that a 62-year-old Princeville man arrived at the station at around 8:45 a.m. He had apparently been hit by a strong wave at Lumahai Beach, which pushed him into rocks and waves and caused him to suffer multiple injuries.

The man was able to drive himself to the station, where firefighters then bandaged his wounds and assisted Medics in preparing him for transport to Wilcox Hospital.

The current condition of both victims is unknown at this time.

Ocean safety officials reported waves of up to 40 feet yesterday along the North Shore. As a public safety precaution, all North Shore beaches, from Kee to Anahola, were closed. Lifeguards spent the day trying to keep spectators off from the shoreline and out of harm's way.

"We were very fortunate to have avoided tragedy Wednesday, and I am very grateful for our team who did an excellent job in preventing injury and keeping the public safe," stated Ocean Safety Bureau Supervisor Kalani Vierra. "We continue to urge the public to heed the warnings for their own safety and the safety of our lifeguards and first responders."

The Ocean Safety Bureau reminds the public that the High Surf Warning for all north and west facing shores remains in effect until 6 a.m. Friday. North Shore beaches, from Kee to Hanalei, are closed until further notice. Anahola Beach was reopened to swimming today.

The National Weather Service warns that during the High Surf Warning, giant breaking surf, very large shore breaks, and dangerous currents will make it extremely hazardous to approach the shoreline in these areas. Those who ignore these warnings could face significant injury or death.

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