‘Rogue’ wave was actually predicted
What a photo on the Garden Island front page Jan, 2, and a great article! Although one person wound up in the operating room sad to say, overall we have to be grateful that people weren’t killed. There very easily could have been multiple people swept out to sea and killed, and Kauai dodged what would have been another numbing tragedy.
The headline is incorrect. It was not a rogue wave at all. It was a predicted wave from a huge swell that was “bombing” our North Shores that day. Our lifeguards closed every beach they were able to that day. Lifeguards, however, don’t have actual legal authority and they don’t carry guns, so the best they can do is recommend — as forcefully and kindly as they are able to muster. I have heard that some people resented being told that the beach was closed and ventured out onto beaches, and even into the water, despite the advice they’d been given. All the more of a challenge for the fine men and women of our Fire Department and Ocean Safety Bureau, since they are the ones to put their own lives at risk in order to rescue people from the harrowing conditions.
As for Hanakapi‘ai itself: The Ke‘e lifeguards have to work at the beach they are watching and they can’t stand at the Kalalau trailhead all day and tell hikers to stay at least 100 yards from the ocean when they get to their Hanakapi‘ai destination. Hopefully the state (since the trail is state park) will be able to allocate a ranger or a DLNR employee to carry out this preventive action on future days when a big swell is hitting the North Shore.
Monty Downs, M.D., President, Kauai Lifeguard Association