LIHUE — Beachgoers united to save three people from drowning in waters off Kauapea Beach in Kilauea on Tuesday.
Multiple swimmers were reported in distress at Kauapea, also known as Secret Beach, around 1 p.m., according to a County of Kauai press release.
By the time firefighters responded, a dozen bystanders had formed a human chain to help two individuals back to shore.
Firefighters then jumped in to assist a third individual.
“The quick-thinking and cooperation of this group of strangers likely saved three people from drowning on Tuesday,” said Fire Chief Robert Westerman.
A 42-year-old Austrian man was the initial swimmer in distress roughly 30 yards off shore.
A 24-year-old Kilauea man then entered the water to assist him. Noticing that both men were having difficulty, a 50-year-old Kauai woman went in and also became distressed, according to KFD.
While awaiting assistance from rescuers, roughly a dozen bystanders locked arms and formed a chain from the beach into the water to try and rescue the group.
They were able to get the two males safely to shore when the firefighters arrived and assisted the woman.
All three individuals showed signs of exhaustion. The Austrian man was transported by medics to Wilcox Memorial Hospital, while the other two individuals were treated and released.
The National Weather Service had issued a High Surf Advisory for all north- and west-facing shores until Tuesday afternoon.
There were dangerous ocean conditions with wave heights of up to 18 feet expected in some areas.
Officials warn that water off Kauapea Beach is known for strong currents and dangerous shore breaks, especially during the winter.