LIHUE — Two people drowned in waters off Kauai in unrelated incidents over the weekend.
The first drowning occurred about 4:45 p.m. Saturday, when a man was observed swimming roughly 30 yards offshore fronting Plantation Hale in Wailua, according to the Kauai Police Department. He appeared to be in distress and signaled for help when a friend of the man and another bystander swam out and brought the unresponsive swimmer to shore.
Firefighters from the Kapaa station took over CPR until medics arrived and transported the victim to Wilcox Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Police identified him as 72-year-old Michael Stone of Boston.
On Sunday, a male visitor was snorkeling about 3:40 p.m. off Mahaulepu Beach in Poipu, when he began showing signs of distress and struggled with his mask and snorkel.
Two bystanders brought the man to shore, where beachgoers, including a retired lifeguard and an off-duty nurse, began performing CPR. Koloa firefighters continued CPR until medics arrived. He was pronounced dead at Wilcox Memorial Hospital a short time later.
The victim has been identified as David Deville, 48, of Arizona.
While there were no ocean advisories Sunday, on Saturday there was a choppy east windswell, as reported by Kauai Explorer.
Monty Downs, president of the Kauai Lifeguard Association, said the waters off Kauai are dangerous even when they appear calm.
“It doesn’t necessarily have to be a crazy rough day,” he said Monday.
Swimmers can’t see the rip currents that can pull them out to deep waters, and they can become exhausted and swallow water trying to fight their way back to shore.
“It can happen very quickly,” he said. “The beauty of remote beaches is alluring, but the waters have rip currents, which sometimes are quite subtle.”
There have been three drownings this year on Kauai. There were nearly 20 in 2013.
Since 1970, about 340 people have died from drowning in the island’s nearshore marine waters, most merely swimming or snorkeling. The deaths have occurred at more than 40 locations around the island’s 110-mile perimeter. More than three-fourths have been visitors.
The death rate has steadily increased from an average of 5.5 per year during the 1970s, to more than 10 per year since 2000.
Downs recommended swimming in one of the island’s many areas protected by lifeguards.
“If there’s no lifeguard around, it’s very dangerous,” he said.
Volunteers with Life’s Bridges, a grief counseling service, assisted the families of both victims who drowned over the weekend.