WATCH: Video captures Waikiki lifeguard rescuing 3 within minutes

In all, it took Onzuka a minute and a half to bring everyone to safety with no injuries.
Published: Sep. 16, 2022 at 5:30 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 16, 2022 at 5:38 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Even as the summer winds down, the south shore is still seeing its fair share of swells.

Last week, Waikiki lifeguards were put to the test and one in particular saved three people within minutes.

The rock wall section at the lagoon near the Prince Kuhio statue appears to be inviting, but when the tide is high and surf picks up it can get out of hand in a hurry.

“It looks really tranquil and calm, but no matter where you go, no matter what beach there’s always dangerous, there’s unpredictable,” said surf photographer Darin Miyashiro, who documented the dangers last week while shooting near the lagoon.

“Next thing I know I glanced over by the opening and I see this girl like panicking and struggling, issues getting sucked out. So right away, I glanced over to the lifeguard tower and I saw Shawn the lifeguard with his board coming in to rescue them.”

Five-year Ocean Safety officer Shawn Onzuka was at the scene within moments and got the girl out of the turbulence.

But seconds later, two others needed help.

“Another woman, an older lady, happened to also get sucked out right after I saved the young girl,” Onzuka said.

“While helping the older woman back to safety, there was an older gentleman who also ... was heading to the danger zone and I had to help him also.”

In all, it took Onzuka a minute and a half to bring everyone to safety with no injuries.

Onzuka says the area is deceivingly dangerous and appropriately known as “Suctions.”

“It’s really the current that just kind of comes in and pushes water in,” Onzuka said.

“Inside that pond area, there’s two sea walls. One sea wall is where a lot of the water comes in and then the seawall where I was, that’s where a lot of the water ends to leave the pond area.”

That’s why Onzuka and his teammates are always on high alert.

“If we weren’t there, oh boy, a lot of bad could happen,” Onzuka said. “Maybe all three of them could have drowned, especially the young girl who could barely keep her head above the water. The older woman, she would have struggled too.”

Onzuka doesn’t consider this rescue heroic, but rather, one of many and he’ll see more in the future.

“I’m just glad I was there at the right time,” Onzuka said. “Just doing what I do and doing what I love to do.”