Three drownings on Kauai were at unguarded beaches

Three drownings on Kauai were at unguarded beaches
Published: Mar. 25, 2015 at 9:35 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 25, 2015 at 10:47 PM HST
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LIHUE, KAUAI (HawaiiNewsNow) - A water safety video greets visitors at baggage claim in Lihue Airport. It also plays on Kauai's visitor channel. It can warn people, but it can't save them. This month four beach goers drowned in Kauai waters. Three of them were visitors.

"Any one of them is just one too many for us, for this year for sure," Kauai Visitors Bureau executive director Sue Kanoho said.

"I don't think it's the conditions because where those people did get in trouble it wasn't high surf or anything. It baffles us at Ocean Safety," Kauai Ocean Safety training supervisor Randy Ortiz said.

Kauai police said Tuesday afternoon 74-year-old Jake Jelinek of Colorado hit his head on a reef at Keoneloa Bay. Efforts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful. On Sunday, 48-year-old David Deville of Arizona ran into trouble while snorkeling at Mahaulepu beach. He died at Wilcox hospital. Saturday afternoon 72-year-old Michael Stone of Boston drowned while swimming at a beach in Wailua. And on March 3, lifeguards recovered the body of Travis Beckwith at Salt Pond Beach in Hanapepe. An autopsy showed the New York native drowned.

"Our prayers are out for the families of the victims," Kanoho said. "We try to assist where we can. Sometimes they need rooms or flights. I'm working with the family of one of the victims right now."

Ortiz said three of the drowning incidents happened at beaches where there are no lifeguards.

"If you do get in trouble, the time for us to respond, that's a factor right there. It's going to take us a while to get there," he said.

Besides the water safety video, Kauai Explorer emails daily ocean reports to Kauai's hotels and concierge desks. Visitors can also download an app to their smartphones that posts Kauai beach conditions.

"Depending on where you're going, if you can, swim with a lifeguard. If you're going to an isolated area, know that area before you go out," Kanoho said.

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