Letters to the Editor for Wednesday — July 30, 2003

• Jack Harter is a Kauai treasure

• A lifeguard named Chris . . .

Jack Harter is a Kauai treasure

After reading your July 26th editorial, I am compelled to respond.

Some 36 years ago, after a hiking misadventure above the Na-Pali coast, Jack Harter saved my life.

In an attempt to maximize our chances of being found, my two hiking companions had left me in a bid to find a way back to our start at Kalalau Lookout. This left me alone to wait for uncertain rescue.

Almost 2 weeks into the ordeal, I heard the very welcome sound of a helicopter coming from over head. The helicopter acknowledged that he had seen me and went out over the ocean to purge some fuel to accommodate my weight.

At incredible risk to his own life, the pilot, Jack Harter fought the Na-Pali updrafts, to carefully hover very close to the cliff face, just far enough for me to leap into his open hatch. My weight momentarily destabilized the craft, but Jackís amazing skill quickly put us on course for a perfect landing.

In this time of tragedy, my prayers go out to the pilot, passengers and families of the ill-fated sightseeing flight. But my prayers also go out to the Jack Harter ohana that has served the public flawlessly and courageously for decades. Jack Harter is a unique Kaua‘i treasure.

My two hiking companions were rescued some 4 hours later by a Marine Rescue Helicopter.

R.V. Peyton


A lifeguard named Chris . . .

Saved my life on July 18th at Kealia Beach. I guess to Hawaiians this is probably a familiar story but no matter how many stories one reads, when someone is saved; a saving rather than a drowning, isn’t the good news a joy to read about?

I only know his name is Chris, but this Lifeguard, with great strength and presence of mind, pulled me out of a serious rip tide. I was literally being swallowed alive by the ocean and Chris swam right in and pulled me out. He talked with me, he gently got me breathing, he did many helpful things to promote my recovery. Meekly, as I nearly prostrated myself out of sheer gratefulness and overwhelming humility, (realize this man saved my life!) I lowered my head and apologized for being so reckless and he simply told me to “use this as a learning experience.” After one week of pondering this sincere suggestion, I realize that was the best advice in the world – so simple yet so profound when examining the whole picture, the whole story.

I decided to write The Garden Island to not only once again thank Chris, but to share a story with a happy ending. I am full of joy to be alive. All our lives are very precious and I’m sure everyone joins me in thanking all the Lifeguards of Hawai‘i for the tremendous service they do.

Take Chris’ great advice and use all your life experiences, “as a learning experience.”

Marybeth Brown,

Tempe, Arizona


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