Visitor dies after jumping off cliff at Shipwreck’s Beach

POIPU­ — A 40-year-old male visitor from Santa Monica, Calif., who died Friday afternoon in waters off Keoneloa Bay, also known as Shipwreck’s Beach, was identified Monday as Rashad Riley.

According to a preliminary investigation, about 2:40 p.m. Riley jumped off the point at Shipwreck’s and was swimming back to shore when he apparently became distressed near the rocky area. Bystanders lost sight of him and called 911.

Lifeguards from the Ocean Safety Bureau’s south roving patrol unit, firefighters from the Koloa station, and Rescue 3 aboard Air 1 responded to the scene and conducted a search. The man’s body was located about 3:20 p.m. by Rescue 3 personnel aboard Air 1 with the help of surfers, who were also assisting in the search.

Lifeguards on Jet Ski recovered the man’s unresponsive body and brought him to shore.

Kauai police and AMR medics also responded to the scene to assist. He was transported to Wilcox Hospital where doctors pronounced him dead. An autopsy is pending.

Early this year, signs were posted on the cliff overlooking Shipwreck’s Beach warning people thinking about making the 40-foot jump into the ocean.

“Diving or Jumping may Lead to Serious Injury or Death,” and, “Undercut Cliff, The Ground may Break off without Warning and You could be Seriously Injured or Killed,” the sign states.

Makawehi Point, a rocky outcropping on the South Shore beach near the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort &Spa, has long been a popular spot for thrill-seeking locals and tourists alike, but the jump can be dangerous.

Dr. Monty Downs, an emergency room physician at Wilcox Medical Center and president of the nonprofit Kauai Lifeguard Association, previously told The Garden Island he became very familiar with the site over the years as he treated a steady stream of patients admitted to the ER after a jump gone wrong at Shipwreck’s Beach.

In an earlier email to The Garden Island, Downs said his research into the hospital’s trauma registry showed that 17 people have suffered serious injuries in the last four years, “including broken backs, broken ribs and limbs, collapsed lungs, and ruptured spleens, and ruptured neck blood vessels.”

2 Comments
  1. Steven McMacken April 16, 2019 3:46 am Reply

    What we have:

    A high cliff with water below? Check.
    Possibly dangerous? Check.
    A sign stating that “diving or jumping” from said cliff “may lead to serious injury or death”? Check.
    A male willing to risk his life, in spite of the obvious dangers, just to prove how manly he is? Check.

    So, Kauai, what’s next, a chain-link fence?

    What we have here isn’t failure to communicate, it’s called stupidity. And you CAN’T STOP STUPID!


  2. Geckoman April 16, 2019 3:47 pm Reply

    Steven nailed it. I believe the sign should be revised, as it is too wordy. Stupid people don’t care. Revision proposal: “Standing on, Diving off of or Jumping from this cliff may Lead to Serious Injury or Death. Kauai holds NO liability for your presence or actions.”


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