LIHUE — Pam Zirker could not contain herself Tuesday while listening to the words of congratulations being bestowed upon tour boat captain Daniel Hale of Na Pali Experience IV.
“Thank you for saving my family,” the teary-eyed Zirker blurted out.
“We’re alive,” Zirker said. “Everyone is alive, and that is the main thing.”
Tour boat captain Hale was presented Good Samaritan commendations from Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr. and Kauai Fire Chief Robert Westerman for his assistance in rescuing a 5-year-old child and four adults from the choppy waters off Kikiaola Small Boat Harbor on June 20 following the capsizing of their boat.
Zirker and her family, visiting from off-island, were leaving the Kikiaola Small Boat Harbor for a tour of Na Pali when their boat was hit by a rogue wave and overturned.
That’s where Hale turned hero.
He was getting a tour boat ready when the fire crew arrived with sirens going. They said they needed his boat because of an emergency.
“That’s when I first heard about the five people,” Hale said. “There was no other boat around, and when we took the boat out, we saw the overturned boat almost right away.”
Hale said they picked up two people and then had to turn away from a set of waves.
“After the set passed, we went back to pick up the other fireman and the remaining three people,” Hale said. “I didn’t really do any of the rescuing — it was the firemen doing all the saving. I’m just glad someone was around to help these people.”
Zirker said following the incident, she and her grandson were hospitalized.
“I had what the doctors described as the broken heart syndrome where my heart actually stopped beating due to a lack of oxygen,” she said. “My grandson was kept in the hospital overnight because he had water in his lungs and they wanted to monitor his health.”
Zirker said even after saving her family, the good deed did not stop. Don Moses rescued her boat, brought it into the harbor and tied it up. He also brought the motor into his shop and flushed it out.
Zirker hugged each member of Hale’s family who was present Tuesday, and each of the firefighters who made the ceremony.
“I’m alive,” she said. “And my family is alive!”