Two teenagers in danger of drowning were rescued off the waters at Kealia Beach Sunday evening.
“The good news is, the kids got brought back to shore,” said Alan Huber of Princeville. “Everyone made it out safely.”
But it was a close call.
Huber was near his car in the parking lot about 5:30 p.m., after the lifeguards had left to for the day, when he heard a cry for help and ran to the shoreline. He saw two boys in rough water about 50 yards out fighting to stay afloat. Huber swam to them, while another man grabbed a rescue tube and followed.
The teens, Huber said, could barely swim. Both were in distress. One seemed to have given up and the other was going limp. Huber and the other man managed to get one of the boys onto the rescue tube but struggled in the waves and strong currents and found themselves being pulled sideways, out to deeper water and sucked under water.
It was, he said, chaotic.
When a surfer arrived, they helped both boys grab on to the board, and pushed it toward shore.
While the surfer, the board and the boys were tossed by waves to shore, Huber found himself pulled out deeper — no board or rescue tube.
Not a great situation to be in.
The man with the rescue tube returned for Huber.
“I hooked my wrist through a strap, and we both got crushed by huge waves,” Huber wrote. “We were able to swim into the next set, away from the beach, scary but necessary to catch a huge wave to shore.”
Even after they were standing, he said it took several minutes to break free of the current and reach the beach.
Huber estimated the incident, start to finish, took about 10 minutes. On the beach, there were a lot of thank yous and hugs as everyone involved caught their breath. No names were exchanged, though, as they each went on their ways.
He downplayed his role in the rescue and said he didn’t have time to think too much about how dangerous the situation was.
“People needed help, so I helped,” he said.
He said the teens went into the water after a football and soon found themselves in trouble. The lifeguards had left not long before, leaving the teens in what Huber called a “notoriously treacherous stretch of ocean.”
“That section of the beach is the worse water I’ve ever been in,” he said.
Huber praised the man who grabbed the rescue tube and the surfer for their quick actions.
“It was a well done civilian rescue,” he said. “Nobody got hurt.”
Huber said he would like to see the open hours of the lifeguard stand at Kealia Beach, and others, extended. Lifeguards, he said, are the daily heroes who respond in all kinds of conditions.
“Tourists don’t know the lifeguard booth is closed,” he said.
Jenn Tyler, originator of the Kauai rescue tube project in 2007, was proud to hear the rescue tubes are still working. Since its inception, The Rescue Tube Foundation has been credited with more than 100 saves.