HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Photographers from around the world were out on Saturday to document a historic swell, but they had to take a break from shooting surfers to dodge a massive set.
Drone video from a spot called “Himalayas” shows about two dozen jet skis scrambling for safety when a series of giant waves rolled in.
Some of the operators turned and raced for the shore while others raced to get over the waves.
A few of them launched 20 or 30 feet in the air.
Photographer Mike Latronic was on one of those jet skis and said everyone was caught off guard.
“Watching that jet ski fly over, watching us fly over and all the other skis,” said Latronic. “It’s just a miracle note, like, as far as I know, there’s no head on collisions, nobody landed on each other.”
Latronic was worried about the jet ski landing on him and his driver, Greg.
He adds that Greg kicked the watercraft away from them and even pushed Latronic away from him as they fell into the water.
“It was like jumping into a swimming pool sideways off of the high dive,” said Latronic.
“It’s what people got to understand that personal watercraft can be a dangerous thing, but it also can be a surgical piece of equipment for rescues,” said Hawaiian waterman Brian Keaulana. “So, you know, one of the things that we try to tackle, especially with our big wave risk assessment group is trying to educate more people in training of what to do.”
Latronic was okay, but photographer Ryan Moss was not so lucky.
A GoFundMe page says he suffered a compressed L3 vertebrae in his lower back and has apparently had hours of surgery.
The GoFundMe page has already raised more than $24,000 out of a goal of $50,000 to help pay for medical bills.