Kauai ocean awareness...drownings

Jan 19th, 2013, 11:45 AM
  #1  
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Kauai ocean awareness...drownings

Another horrible tragedy occurred yesterday afternoon. Group of tourist not heeding the constant warnings chose to disregard, unsafe approach to follow the guide book directions to "head left once down on Secret beach to the rocks to get a safer view if waves are large". Not a soul on the secluded beach as warning level 30 foot face wave were hitting Kauai. Swept off by a set of 5 waves that overtook them, nowhere to run to for safety; all you can do is try and hold on to the rock face. NO life guards, response time for Fire department is ~15 minutes, no chance. We were surfing Kalihiwai bay, protected from the huge west swell yet still dangerous. Misstated as a "rescue", is always body recovery. I hate this scenario so much.


KALIHIWAI, KAUAI (HawaiiNewsNow) -
Rescue personnel on Kauai have located the body of one drowning victim in waters off South Kalihiwai Point and are in the process of retrieving the body via helicopter. Crews are still trying to locate the body of another drowning victim who was swept out into the surf Friday afternoon.

Kauai County says Ke'e, Ha'ena and Pine Trees beaches are closed for the day due to dangerous ocean conditions.

The drowning victims, two adult male visitors, have been identified, but their names are being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

The Kaua'i Police Department reports that the two men were traveling with a group of friends, and had stopped at a remote point off of South Kalihiwai Road late yesterday afternoon, when one of the men was swept into the ocean by high surf.

The other man dove in to try and help and was also overcome by high surf.

A woman in the group called emergency 911 at 5:10 pm, which set off a rescue effort that involved the Kaua'i Fire Department and the US Coast Guard, but was unsuccessful due to dangerous ocean conditions.

By the time emergency personnel arrived, the men were floating face down in the water and appeared to be deceased. The recovery effort was called off at 6:35 pm due to darkness and high surf.

Kaua'i remains in a high surf warning today for north and west facing shores. The high surf warning was extended by the National Weather Service (NWS) through 6:00 a.m. on Sunday, January 20. NWS has advised that anyone entering the waters risks serious injury or death.
kauaistyle is offline  
Jan 19th, 2013, 11:56 AM
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Very sad. I would think just seeing the size of the waves would keep people a safe distance away from the beach, not to mention the warnings. I guess they don't comprehend the power of the water.
aloha is offline  
Jan 19th, 2013, 12:27 PM
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cd
 
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We are leaving shortly for Kauai and the Big Island. Are the warnings posted on the beach? Some of the beaches have to be hiked to so how would one know of the warnings?
cd is offline  
Jan 19th, 2013, 01:48 PM
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People who are not familiar with the ocean can be completely clueless about how dangerous it is.

The first time we took a teen niece from Cleveland to the beach she simply walked out into the breakers - and it took 3 people to pull her back in. We had explained and said start with water at your knees and work out gradually - but she thought she could swim through shoulder high breakers.
nytraveler is offline  
Jan 19th, 2013, 07:46 PM
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I was there in Kauai, staying in Kapaa up to today. I drove up to the north side to the end Ke'e and WHOA! the ocean was fierce. People were warned not to go into the water at the main beaches where I stopped. They said on the local news that they could not get the bodies right away because it was too risky.
hpeabody is offline  
Jan 19th, 2013, 08:28 PM
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That is so sad--but people do such foolish things.

Yesterday there was a sign posted at the pavilion at Hanalei Bay that the beach was closed. I still walked the length of the beach but stayed far from the ocean--and kept an eye on it. There were quite a few people strolling and lounging. There was no sign at the area around the pier and Black Pot--and there were lots of people swimming there.

I've been to Ke'e Beach (but not on this trip) when there was a sign posted that the beach was closed. But I'm guessing that a remote beach that you would hike to would probably not have a sign. I'd check the weather reports online to see if there is a high surf advisory.

FYI, over the past couple of weeks, on the days I visited, Hanalei Bay, Anini Beach, Kealia Beach, Donkey Beach, and Anahola were all pretty calm--and lots of people were swimming. I believe the high surf advisory is expected to end tomorrow.
Songdoc is offline  
Jan 20th, 2013, 06:02 AM
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Sigh...another tragedy.

"Some of the beaches have to be hiked to so how would one know of the warnings?"

One needs to use common sense and have a healthy respect for the power of the ocean. Many of these places ARE posted as dangerous, but people looking for a "more exciting ocean experience" or "a more country style adventure" don't care. Some people seem to have an inflated sense of themselves and often disregard warnings, advice and get caught up in the moment. I have seen this attitude at work all over the island at many of the places and beaches mentioned above.

It is very sad.
wekewoody is offline  
Jan 20th, 2013, 06:54 AM
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I've seen people along boardwalks ( on TV news) .. some wave splashing over the railings and then suddenly a big mother wave comes and throws them to the ground.

I assume the waves crashing before they were swept away were not that alarming to them and they are simply ignorant about the possibiity of the next waves being MUCH worse.It's such a sad story. No one on purpose puts themsleves in this situtuation.. it's just sad ignorance.
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Jan 20th, 2013, 07:21 AM
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cd
 
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I agree that it is sad ignorance. If there is a high surf advisory, should one assume that a 'sneaker wave' or 'mother wave' COULD be a possibility? And to stay away from the shoreline?
cd is offline  
Jan 20th, 2013, 07:34 AM
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Of course .. if they are aware of all the warnings.. of course. I hope the others have now learned .. but the hard way.
lincasanova is offline  
Jan 20th, 2013, 08:09 AM
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Unfortunately this sort of thing happens every winter on the north shore of Kauai. People see the signs. They hear the warnings and read the surf reports, but they don't think they apply to them. I don't think ignorance plays as large a part in happenings like this as one would like to think.
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Jan 20th, 2013, 09:11 AM
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cd
 
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I'm wondering if the Pacific is not more prone to danger than the Atlantic when it comes to "sneaker" waves. We have beach vacationed often on the east coast and Gulf of Mexico and I have never heard of this until just now when reading in preparation of staying in Hawaii. Perhaps these tourists are those who think that a surf advisory pertains to just not swimming and has nothing to do with wading along the shore. I honestly would of thought that. I'm glad I know differantly now.
cd is offline  
Jan 20th, 2013, 01:38 PM
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yes cd, it's a whole different beast when you are in the middle of the ocean. And it is not just a winter seasonal thing. Just last summer a young boy drowned by a rogue wave that swept him off the rocks while on a hiking/kayaking trip on a day of relatively calm conditions. He was considered one of the strongest swimmers of the group, yet didn't have a chance.

That is why I become vocal on this forum when someone who has never been to the islands and wants some good waves and a more exciting ocean experience, because their kids are "strong swimmers". . . well when people here post about "fun epic waves", or "if it is choppy at a beach just wear fins and you'll be fine", attention must be paid.

There's a reason why people Revile the Blue Books and Mr. Daughty's cavalier attitude of ocean safety.

Many victims are just plain stupid, like the guy that got sucked into the blow hole on Maui. I don't think they ever recovered his body. There are hundreds of stories.

Again, I think these two websites should be visited by every tourist and played by the airlines as they begin their decent.

http://kauailifeguards.org/

http://www.KauaiExplorer.com/guides/...ach_safety.php

Sometimes just a little education and a lot of common sense is the only thing between life and death. Have a wonderful time cd. And some great safe ocean swimming!
Lookin_Glass is offline  
Jan 20th, 2013, 02:02 PM
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Cd, I stopped at Ha'ena Beach several years ago. The beach was closed and it should have been obvious that even wading or walking along the shore was dangerous. We kept a good distance away from ocean, but there were a couple of people, including a family with children who would make quick runs into the water. Even though the beach was closed, there was a lifeguard on duty, so maybe he added a false sense of security.
wtm003 is online now  
Jan 20th, 2013, 04:28 PM
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I have always thought that people who "reviled" the Blue books were more concerned about their special places being revealed to outsiders than safety issues. I think that the books are pretty safety focused, frankly, and I never thought there was a "cavalier attitude of ocean safety" in any of the books(tho I admit I've only had editions of Oahu, BI, and Maui; I did note that some private land/access issues were resolved between editions).
Anyway, whether you are swimming in Hawaii, climbing in Rocky Mountain NP, hiking in Death Valley, or skiing in Utah, only an idiot thinks that nature is a playground and that nothing bad can happen.
sylvia3 is online now  
Jan 21st, 2013, 09:09 AM
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in response to some posts.....the drownings i've responded to on Kauai as a local born resident and far too many throughout my life as a county life guard and fire fighter/emt on oahu and maui county are because of visitors taking a risk no matter how seemingly insignificant in adverse conditions. Signs are out, float rings in place to assist, life guards adamantly pro active and in your face if you approach a dangerous shoreline. Visitors disregard their sense of responsibility! When someone is swept off a rocky outcropping, they drown quickly and turn to hamburger from being dragged back and forth along the reef/rocks, unless a sand beach drowning. The latest drownings with these 5(two died) guests occurred at a spot off the beaten path ...the first victim chose to walk out to the plateau of lava overlooking the ocean, seemingly safe as the long lulls of this large swell presented the illusion of "its not so bad" and he lost his life as the set inundated him as there was no retreat mostly due to his position far out on the rocks. His friend instinctively jumped in and they both disappeared as the set kept pounding for the next few minutes. Thats how it goes here...large sets of waves can be seen coming from afar after a long lull...these storms far off the Aleutians are powerful yet far a way so lulls are long, and then a giant set of up to 8 to 10 waves detonate on the reef. kalihiwai bay that day was small and we surfed all day as the west component missed the bay yet was nailing the north facing rocks. This whole set up happens far too often and no matter the level of prevention, it affect everyone here. I cannot imagine the families receiving such horrible news. As civil servants,we are putting our lives on the line in response to these tragedies. many times, the captain will pull his crew out of the area as its too dangerous to send anyone in and certain death for a fellow fire fighter is avoided.
the cavalier attitude of opening up the off the radar spots is evident in the presentation to showcase and sell the island. these places were never portrayed to anyone until the travel guides started "sharing" the hidden reef/coves/ocean walkways...there is no safety first,, instead go visit here and walk there...there is zero chance of rescue at some of these places showcased. nothing about us worrying about visitors seeing our places. I'm happy to show you myself when the time is right. the editors are diluting the issues and drownings do happen directly related to them showcasing the places unsafe for visitors....community forums speak endlessly about this issue. Try come and be present in forums with the local emergency room drs and fire fighters as we go through the particulars of how to prevent further deaths.
I defer to you when i come to Idaho to ski, or Yosemite to hike..your local knowledge is concise and i do not pretend to know more than you or follow a guide book exclusively. Always find a local born and raised, not someone having lived there for 10 years and advocating he/she is a local. conditions are learned from kid days. knowledge is compiled by involvement.
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Jan 21st, 2013, 11:22 AM
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slyvia, the national parks didn't ban the books from their giftshops many years ago, because they were promoting trespassing to hidden gems. They banned them because they were suggesting dangerous behavior and tourists were dying.

I've followed Doughty thru the press for about 15 years of controversy. His partner took her names of the books as a cowriter. I'm sure she had good reason. He has no remorse but a great sense of entitlement. Not once have I heard him mourn the loss of life or take a single bit of responsibility.

I have often wondered how many of these deaths had a Blue Book sitting nearby as they died.

Kauaistyle, although I understand you may be using this website as a platform to promote and advertise your concierge skills for hire, I don't appreciate when you belittle others and act superior. Just a week or two ago, you acted flippant about ocean safety. Since I and others called you out, you have taken a new tact, a responsible tact. You have made clearly irresponsible comments and have now changed your position. I truly appreciate that. But please don't belittle me and other haole mainlanders who have invested in bringing up ocean safety and respect for years on these forums.

And please do not suggest that only tourists drown because they disregarded the signs. As you know many locals too have drowned in the past 20 years as well. Locals like you that knew the signs, and ignored them.
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Jan 21st, 2013, 11:51 AM
  #18  
cd
 
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wtm, If the beach was closed why was a lifeguard on duty?
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Jan 21st, 2013, 01:17 PM
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Kal
 
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As a kid growing up in San Diego my born/raised SD cousins taught me to respect the ocean.
My travels to Kauai have taught me to fear the ocean. Not too much room for error on that gorgeous, wonderful island.

cd...While we were at Haena last week the beach was closed due to hi surf. Big signs posted. While laying there catching some rays and hearing "the thumpers" we hear the Lifegaurd whistle. 4 young boneheads were going in.
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Jan 21st, 2013, 01:24 PM
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Kal
 
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kauaistyle-love your posts but I'm beggin' yah...paragraphs please.

We were staying on the Coconut Coast until last Friday.
The waves hitting the East Coast were some of the biggest and most consistant we've seen since we started going over in '89. Awesome to look at tho. Usually pretty calm in the Dec/Jan mos.
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