Police identify Hanauma Bay drowning victims

Man, woman from Washington state die in apparent drownings
Police at Hanauma Bay
Police at Hanauma Bay

EAST HONOLULU, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Two visitors from Washington State who died Friday in apparent drownings at Hanauma Bay have been identified.

Officials say a hiker called 911 around 10:30 Friday morning after spotting the two victims, 60-year-old Robert Jones and 55-year-old Jane Jones, struggling in the water.

"I wasn't sure what was going on, but all of a sudden the lifeguards started getting on the microphone and sending out the jet skis," said Tim Phillips, a visitor from California who spent the morning snorkeling at Hanauma Bay.

Eight lifeguards and 2 rescue specialists were dispatched.

"We brought both patients into shore and CPR was performed but unfortunately, both patients did pass away," said Shayne Enright, a spokesperson for the Honolulu Emergency Services Department.

An autopsy will need to be performed to determine exactly how they died, but officials suspect they drowned.

"The Honolulu Police Department will be conducting an investigation to look further into it, but at this point, it does look like they were snorkeling," said Enright.

Witnesses say the current was a little strong, but the water wasn't too rough.

"This is a leisure activity but at the same time, it's important to stay safe out there," said Phillips.

Officials say the two were rescued from the bay between spots known as Baboon's Nose and Witches' Brew -- an area which is not off-limits.

"It's very tragic to see the entire beach standing there while the lifeguards were tending to the victims, and it's really unfortunate on this otherwise beautiful day during a vacation activity to see something like that is really a bummer," Phillips said.

State Health Department officials confirm there were 4 drownings at Hanauma Bay in 2014. They say a total of 47 people have drowned at the popular snorkeling spot since 1995, including the two who died Friday.

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