Hometown Heroes: Longtime lifeguard dedicates nomination to 2 late colleagues

Hometown Heroes: He stopped counting how many lives he's saved, but remembers the first

KAILUA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Tony Ho has been a city lifeguard for for 35 years.

The 61-year-old doesn't remember all the lives he's saved, but he remembers the first one.

"It was a Japanese tourist out at two echo Waikiki at the wall, and we brought her in unresponsive. She wasn't breathing. No pulse. And we brought her back," said Ho. "And I thought that it was the coolest thing ... so haven't stopped doing it since."

It was his very first year as a lifeguard and he was only 26 years old.

Ho was nominated as one of Hawaii News Now's "Hometown Heroes," residents who demonstrate exemplary service for their communities. Ho said that instead of recounting all of his experiences, he wants to dedicate his nomination to Joshua Guerra and Joy Mills-Ferren.

Both lifeguards died unexpectedly last month.

"It wrecked us actually. To lose those two in such a short period of time, they were two unbelievable guards and people," he said.

Mills-Ferren, 48, and her 56-year-old husband were found dead in their Kailua-Kona apartment on Aug. 3 in an apparent murder-suicide. Hawaii County police said they both died from a single gunshot wound.

Mills-Ferren followed in her father's footsteps to become a lifeguard in Kona. She followed in her mother's footsteps by dancing hula. Those who knew her said she could light up a room with her smile.

Less than three weeks after her death, Honolulu lifeguard Guerra died while night surfing with coworkers in Waikiki.

"That one hurt, I mean both of them. I don't know which one hurts more. Because ... we're real close."

This past Tuesday, dozens of lifeguards gathered at Kailua Beach to say goodbye to Guerra. The 42-year-old dedicated 17 years of his life to saving others. And in death saved even more by donating three of his organs.

His ashes were scattered at Kailua Beach, a place he loved to be, a place he loved to work, a place he can now call home.

"I think they left an imprint on this place definitely and the lives they touched and saved, infinite," said Ho. "So when you talk about 'Hometown Heroes,' they're my heroes."

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