Woman swept away at Queen’s Bath

  • Caleb Loehrer / The Garden Island

    Waves crash over an area where a California woman was swept away at Queen’s Bath in Princeville on Wednesday.

  • Caleb Loehrer/ The Garden Island

    A woman was swept from this area of Queen’s Bath in Princeville on Wednesday.

  • Caleb Loehrer / The Garden Island

    A boat searches the waters off Queen’s Bath Wednesday.

  • Caleb Loehrer / The Garden Island

    Kauai Fire Department Battalion Chief Solomon Kanoho scans the waters at Queen’s Bath in Princeville Wednesday afternoon.

  • Caleb Loehrer / The Garden Island

    Signs at the entrance to Queen’s Bath in Princeville warn of dangers Wednesday.

PRINCEVILLE — A 23-year-old California woman was swept offshore Wednesday while posing for a photograph at Queen’s Bath. The search for her body has so far been unsuccessful.

The woman — on vacation from Los Angeles with her boyfriend and two other friends — reportedly hiked down a dirt trail, past a gate with signs warning of dangerous surf, to the rocky outcropping sometime on Wednesday morning, according to U.S. Coast Guard officials who responded to the scene.

Just before noon, as the woman’s friends watched, a big wave crashed into the rocks, sweeping her away and then carrying her west along the shore, according to Justin Shakleford, a senior chief with the Coast Guard.

Two other people standing nearby “saw her face in the water momentarily, and then she was gone,” said Shakleford.

Her friends lost sight of her briefly, then spotted an arm reaching up out of the ocean, Shakleford said. Later, they caught one last glimpse of her body floating facedown before it was sucked under.

According to a spokesperson with the Coast Guard, the woman’s friends kept sight of her for about five minutes, spotting her white bathing suit in the dark water. Details remain unclear, but at some point “it sounds like she may have hit her head,” the spokesperson said.

Kauai Fire Department Ocean Safety Bureau officers were the first responders. Battalion Chief Solomon Kanoho said they began the search on Jet Skis, working their way along the shore and were eventually joined by a KFD helicopter

The Coast Guard — called in for assistance around noon by the KFD — sent a 45-foot boat from Lihue and a helicopter from Air Station Barber’s Point, which deployed a self-locating datum marker buoy — a tool used in ocean search and rescue missions to determine the likely location of a drifting body.

The SLDMB is designed to float in the water like a human being. So the search team drops it where the missing person was last seen. As the buoy is carried by the ocean current, it transmits tracking data back to the responding team via satellite. As of 6 p.m., the buoy had not helped to locate the woman, but the Coast Guard helicopter and boat tracking the SLDMB were last seen heading west from Queen’s Bath.

The Coast Guard search — covering 17 square nautical miles — ended at sunset. The fire department continued for a short time longer, but eventually suspended their efforts as well.

Kanoho said the KFD will pick up the search again this morning, but did not seem optimistic about the prospect of finding the woman alive. “I can’t even tell you how many people have died out here over the years,” he said. “Too many to count.”

•••

Caleb Loehrer, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0441 or cloehrer@thegardenisland.com.

9 Comments
  1. Ted December 6, 2018 4:42 am Reply

    Idiots – her friends should be charged with negligent homicide.


    1. diane tilley December 6, 2018 11:09 am Reply

      I think that is a very harsh comment. I know it happens too much and our wonderful rescuers are put at risk, but her friends just went through a traumatic experience! please be kinder.


  2. Larry December 6, 2018 4:59 am Reply

    Complacency Kills!
    Very sad
    Maybe Now people listen to good advice
    Locals as well as visitors


  3. commonsense December 6, 2018 9:42 am Reply

    Close it off permanently. It’s as simple as that. The place is dangerous and not all that great a place to hang out anyway.


  4. Natasha Florentino December 6, 2018 11:27 am Reply

    I agree with “commonsense”. Queens Bath needs to be permanently shut down. It really makes no sense to keep it open. It poses such a high level of danger. There will continue to be deaths every now and then because it is advertised as a tourist attraction. People simply don’t understand the high risk of being swept into the ocean. It’s also very easy to underestimate the size and strength of the waves.


  5. Colleen O'Neil December 6, 2018 1:38 pm Reply

    We have climbed down there many times but I agree with comments above…it’s not that great a view of anything in particular. The path down is treacherous and muddy and we always make sure we stay close to the trees and banks and do not venture ever close to the rocky edge where the waves crash. If you stay and watch for 30 minutes or so you’ll see the set of waves that are unlike the others and crash up unexpectedly high.


  6. throwaway808 December 6, 2018 2:03 pm Reply

    Put big boulders in the parking lot, load the trail up with cat’s claw, take out whatever ropes are installed to get down the trail and just be done with it. Charge anyone caught trying to get in with trespassing. Beach access is an important issue to me and I hate to see it restricted anywhere, but in the case of QB its just not worth it.


  7. andy December 6, 2018 3:58 pm Reply

    I’ve noticed two things from the comments so far: First, this is an absolutely heartbreaking incident, regardless of the lack of awareness exhibited by the victim and her companions. Second, no mention of the incredible heroism of the first responders, combing the shoreline on their jet-skis in the midst of 20-to-30 foot surf…are you kidding? These guys are so committed and fearless there should be an entire TGI dedicated just to them. My point is, let’s concentrate on what is most important here: the oft-repeated and totally tragic nature of the incident, and the bravery of the watermen who attempted, in vain, to rescue the young woman.


  8. Over December 6, 2018 11:53 pm Reply

    Once again, people are responsible for their own death. I feel bad for her, but she made that choice. The place can be dangerous, but if you use common sense, it is safe. When the waves are up, don’t go near the edge. Plain and simple. This is going to be another excuse for the Nanny State to shut down a wonderful venue.


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