Survivor never saw wave coming

LIHU’E — Lynn and John Jones never saw it coming.

The Neosha, Mo. couple were on Kaua’i celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary when tragedy struck Thursday.

The third of a series of strong waves crashed onto the bluffs near Queen’s Bath at Princeville, and swept an already-badly-injured-and-incoherent John Jones into the sea, she said.

He was 55, and died.

“I never felt anything that big or strong before,” Lynn Jones said of the first wave.

“It picked me up and threw me. I’m not sure my feet ever touched down,” said she said Monday from her hospital bed at Wilcox Memorial Hospital, where she is recuperating from a broken hip and multiple abrasions.

Her lunch lay untouched, her mind occupied with funeral arrangements for her husband.

The only light Lynn Jones can find now is that perhaps her experience will alert others to be vigilant at all times when walking along potentially-treacherous shoreline conditions.

“I want to warn people. Kaua’i is such a beautiful place,” she said. “People need to take extreme caution, especially if they’re from a place like Missouri and are more familiar with lakes and rivers than they are with oceans.”

The Joneses were making their first visit to Kaua’i. They were accompanied by Dr. Bill Masters, a minister, and his wife Beth, and were staying at a home on the North Shore.

The three are scheduled to leave Kaua’i tomorrow, Wednesday, Oct. 19, in the evening. John Jones’ funeral service will be held Monday, Oct. 24, in Neosha.

The couple had visited the Queen’s Bath two days earlier, and had seen no indication of huge waves, Lynn Jones said. They saw people having a good time. The images remain on John Jones’ camera.

When they returned two days later, at about 9:15 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 13, Lynn Jones said there was no one else present, John Jones noticed the waves were very strong, and the couple turned back up the path to leave. No sooner had they turned around when the wave washed over them, slamming them into the rocks.

Lynn Jones estimated the wave had to be 20 to 25 feet.

“John was so beat up. His face was covered with blood. I couldn’t move. He helped move me,” she said.

Lynn Jones said they saw only one person, a man who shouted out and asked if they were OK, and said he would bring back help.

Husband and wife clung together on a rock ledge in the last minutes Lynn Jones saw her husband alive. They agreed to sit tight and wait for help. One more wave dashed them onto the rocks. The final of the trio of waves sent John Jones out to sea, while Lynn Jones clung to a rock.

“I watched him bob up and down in an alcove next to the sea, and then he was swept in. I couldn’t see him,” she said. “I was looking for his head to come up.”

At this time (likely about 9:45 a.m.), Kaua’i Fire Department Ocean Safety Bureau lifeguards out of Hanalei, aboard personal water craft, took John Jones to a beach, and from there he was transported to Wilcox Memorial Hospital by an American Medical Response ambulance crew. He was pronounced dead at Wilcox.

Lynn Jones was rescued by firefighters from the KFD Princeville fire station, according to county Public Information Officer Mary Daubert.

Lynn Jones said she had nothing but praise for the personnel at Wilcox Memorial Hospital, and how she has been treated. She said she is not quite sure if the reality of her loss has hit her.

“I don’t know yet. It comes now and then,” she said. “I think it will hit harder when I see our three children.”

Masters, who met Lynn and John Jones in a Sunday-school class he taught, called his late friend “very magnanimous.”

After his retirement from La-Z-Boy, he ran a small clock shop called “It’s Time” in Neosha.


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