Deadly day for swimmers on East Shore

Emergency units were dispatched to Anahola at 11:30 a.m. yesterday when a 911 call came from witnesses on the beach as they watched rescuers pull a woman from the surf.

Initial reports over an emergency frequency scanner indicated the woman was not breathing and that CPR was being performed. Upon arriving, emergency personnel learned that the woman’s 9-year-old son was still in the water and unaccounted for.

A search was immediately launched.

The incident occurred on the beach halfway between the mouth of Anahola Stream and Anahola Beach Park. Emergency units reached the beach by taking Poha Road.

The woman was reportedly watching her two children in the water when the current started to take them. The younger child was saved but the 9-year-old boy was still unaccounted for as rescuers attempted to revive the woman.

The U.S. Coast Guard launched a helicopter from Barber’s Point, O‘ahu at noon to assist in the search for the boy. The helicopter arrived on-scene at 12:30 p.m., and by that time there were four to five rescue personnel in the water searching for the boy.

Emergency personnel were able to revive the woman on the beach enough to establish vital signs and she was rushed to Wilcox Hospital, still unconscious. Around 3 p.m., a Wilcox Hospital spokesperson said the woman was still alive, and that hospital personnel “were still working on her.”

At 8 p.m. last night, the woman was in critical condition, on life support, and the father was caring for the surviving children who were at the beach, including a girl. The family had been staying at a home near the Anahola Beach Park.

According to a county press release, Kaua‘i Fire Department officials said the two brothers were playing in the water next to Anahola Beach Park when they got caught in the current. Their 32-year-old mother entered the water, grabbed the eight-year-old and attempted to bring him to shore, but had difficulty doing so.

A bystander saw what was happening and swam out to assist the woman with bringing the child in.

After taking care of the one child, the woman tried to go back out to rescue her other son, but had problems fighting the currents. The same bystander then went out to rescue the woman. By the time they reached the shore the woman was unresponsive.

The 8-year-old who was saved was reunited with his father after his mother was transported to the hospital. Rescuers continued the search for the missing brother until darkness fell. The family was visiting the island from Colorado. Names of the family are being withheld until proper notifications are made. Searchers were still trying to locate the boy at press time.

Not long after the Anahola incident — around 12:50 p.m. — rescue personnel were dispatched to the “Marine Camp” area when a 911 call reported three distressed swimmers offshore. According to emergency scanner transmissions, three swimmers were offshore when one of them panicked and went under. County spokesperson Mary Daubert said, “There were two young men swimming in the water near Nukolii Beach Road about 100 to 150 yards offshore.”

“They started having difficulty and yelled for help and another young man swam out to help,” Daubert said.

The two stronger swimmers were able to get the victim to the surfline before he was torn from their grasp and disappeared. As of press time, the 17-year-old male was still missing. “All three were local males and the two that made it out of the water were taken to Wilcox with difficulty breathing,” Daubert said.

The three were students at Kapa‘a High School.

The Marine Camp area is between the Wailua Golf Course and Kauai Beach Villas on the East Shore. Daubert said the name of the victim in the Marine Camp incident is not being released pending notification of family.

With a strong tradewind blowing in the 20-knot range and a six- to eight-foot swell coming out of the west, the eastern shore yesterday had turbulent conditions with strong currents. The Coast Guard assisting in the Anahola Bay search in a “Zodiac” watercraft, as well as with the chopper, reported at 12:45 p.m. that “due to sea conditions we cannot fully enter the bay.”

Ocean safety bureau personnel advise swimmers to be aware of conditions and the hazards involved with high surf.

Officials also recommend swimming at beaches manned by lifeguards.

If in doubt, it’s best not to go swimming, officials said.

• Adam Harju, editor, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 227) and


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