Flashlight key to locating missing jet skier

Sandee Phillips
Sandee Phillips
Angela Henderson
Angela Henderson

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

WAIMANALO (KHNL) - A Kaneohe man is safely back on land after being stranded in the ocean for hours. The Coast Guard says a flashlight was the key in locating the missing jet skier in waters off Koko Head Thursday night.

For the second time in two days, Sandee Phillips enjoys the scenery at Kaiona Beach Park in Waimanalo.

"It's a very special beach because, if you notice here, it's a really safe beach for all the keiki," she said.

At about 2 pm Thursday, a man left the beach on a five-person jet ski and disappeared. The Coast Guard says Gerald Lum, 51, was heading to Hale O Lono Harbor on Molokai, when he ran into trouble.

"It was 20 knot winds and seven foot seas, and he had run out of gas," Petty Officer Angela Henderson, U.S. Coast Guard, said. "And then his jet ski started taking on water."

Rescue crews say they found him at about 10:20 pm, after they noticed a faint light coming from his flashlight.

"The jet ski was about 75% submerged in the water," Henderson said. "And the man was still on his jet ski."

"I thought that was a pretty incredible story," Phillips said. "Good thing he had that flashlight."

The Coast Guard says Lum is an experienced jet skier, who made the trip from Oahu to Molokai before. But Phillips says you never know when it comes to the ocean.

"It's so unpredictable, too, and the current is so very strong. So I said, wow," the long-time Waimanalo resident said. "And then I heard he was 51 years old. I said, you go guy. So I'm just really glad that he's okay, though."

The Coast Guard says Lum was in good condition when he was plucked from the 7-foot seas.