Human chain saves three from drowning off Kauapea Beach - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Human chain saves three from drowning off Kauapea Beach

KILAUEA, KAUAI (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Beachgoers worked together to save three individuals from drowning in waters off Kauapea Beach on Tuesday.

Firefighters from the Hanalei Station responded to a report of multiple swimmers in distress at around 1 p.m. at Kauapea, also known as Secret Beach. Firefighters arrived to the scene to find that roughly a dozen bystanders had formed a human chain to help two individuals back to shore.

Two firefighters then jumped in to assist the third individual out of the water.

According to fire personnel, a 42-year-old Austrian man was the initial swimmer in distress, roughly 30 yards off shore. A Kilauea man, age 24, then entered the water to assist him. Noticing that both men were having difficulty, a Kaua‘i woman, age 50, then went in and also became distressed.

While awaiting assistance from rescuers, roughly a dozen bystanders locked arms and formed a chain from the beach into the water to try and rescue the group. They were able to get the two males safely to shore, when firefighters arrived and assisted the woman.

All three individuals showed signs of exhaustion. The 42-year-old Austrian man was transported by medics to Wilcox Hospital, while the other two individuals were treated and released at the scene.

“Rip currents are extremely dangerous and difficult to detect,” stated Fire Chief Robert Westerman. “If you are an inexperienced swimmer, or unfamiliar with the area, always speak to a lifeguard or a knowledgeable person before entering the water. Know before you go!”

Officials warn that water off Kauapea Beach is known for extremely strong currents and dangerous shore breaks, especially during the winter, when surf is strongest along the north and west-facing shores. Swimmers are instead encouraged to visit guarded beaches on the south and west sides, such as Po‘ipu Beach or Salt Pond Beach.

“The quick-thinking and cooperation of this group of strangers likely saved three people from drowning on Tuesday,” added Chief Westerman. “The rescue tube placed at Kauapea had apparently been damaged. The lanyards were cut off, making it unsafe for anyone to use in a rescue. This is yet another example of how vandalism hurts our entire community.”

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