‘That’s why I’m here’

KAPAA — JD Guinn is talker. An encourager. Friendly, too.

That combination invites encounters with Kauai’s visitors. It also led him to be there when one of those visitors needed him most.

“What he did, I can’t express my thank yous enough to JD,” said Buranda Martinez. “JD is an incredibly beautiful human being.”

In early June, Johnny and Buranda Martinez, on vacation from the Bay Area, were at Nukolii Beach, also known as Kitchens Beach. It was an early morning walk, 6:30 or so, two days before they had to go home, and they were looking for shells.

They hadn’t found much, when they struck up a conversation with a man who said his name was JD (James Daniel) Guinn of Kapaa. The beach was otherwise deserted.

“I talk to everyone. I like to know where people come from because it’s very interesting to me,” Guinn said, “and I like being friendly.’

The Martinezes had not found any shells yet, but that’s because they were looking in the wrong place, their new friend told them. They’re in the water, he said.

That’s where they headed.

As JD and Johnny searched for shells, Buranda snapped a few pictures. They found what they were after.

“I handed him a couple shells,” JD said. “She said something to him, he didn’t respond. I look at him and realized something was wrong. He couldn’t move and he couldn’t move his feet.”

Buranda recognized what was happening.

“It’s a seizure,” she said.

Her husband had sustained a brain injury in an accident in August 2012 and had suffered a seizure in 2014.

Because of the brain injury, seizures require immediate medical attention, Buranda said.

JD’s actions might have saved her husband.

“Mind you, my husband and I are visiting an island we’ve never been to and we just met this man 10 minutes before,” she said.

Guinn acted quickly.

“We picked him up. It was like pulling a stiff board,” he said. “We laid him down and I elevated his head.”

Guinn called 911 and asked if he could pray for Johnny. Buranda said yes.

Medical help arrived in about 15 minutes.

Buranda, relieved, told Guinn “I would not have known what to tell them.”

“That’s why I’m here,” he said.

After the ambulance took Johnny to Wilcox hospital, JD resumed his shell search, then headed home. He cleaned up and went to Wilcox to check on Johnny and Buranda. He spent about four hours in the waiting room. Johnny, he was told, had suffered a grand mal seizure that lasted about an hour, and was doing better.

A day later, when the couple was scheduled to fly home, Guinn met them at the airport to see them off and deliver a gift: Seashells.

“You guys have to take something home with you,” he said. “God blesses me with shells.”

He has kept in contact with the couple through Facebook, checked on Johnny Martinez and they have become friends.

“I’m an encourager,” Guinn said.

Back home, Johnny Martinez is on the path to recovery.

“He was so happy that this stranger would do what he did,” Buranda said.

“We’re thankful JD was there,” she added.

It wasn’t luck, Guinn said. He is often at Nukolii Beach looking for shells, one of his hobbies.

But he believes this was a divine appointment.

“Because I’m a local I was able to pinpoint our location,” he wrote. “Johnny and his wife were here visiting from California and she would not have known how to direct them to this location. God knew and had placed me there to help.

“I don’t think he would have made it if I hadn’t been there,” he said. “It was my job to be there and comfort both of them.”

Buranda expressed surprised at Guinn’s sincerity.

“Here’s a stranger showing kindness, compassion,” she said. “What he did was just incredible. I don’t like to think about the outcome if he hadn’t been there.”

What stood out for her was that Guinn didn’t want them to be alone and visited the hospital and again at the airport. She’s thankful they crossed paths.

“It can feel pretty scary in a place you’re not familiar with,” she said.

Guinn deflects credit and said he’s not trying to sensationalize what happened that day.

“It was my pleasure. I like helping people,” he said.

“That’s where I was supposed to be. I knew it. I knew I was supposed to be there.”

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