Six swimmers saved amidst High Surf Warning
First responders rescued multiple beachgoers at Queen’s Bath and ‘Anini Beach on the North Shore Thursday, during a High Surf Warning.
“(They) are fortunate to be alive,” said Fire Chief Michael Gibson in a County of Kaua‘i press release. “Swimming and snorkeling during a High Surf Warning and trespassing at Queen’s Bath, known for its hazardous ocean conditions, are extremely unwise, and put our first responders at tremendous risk.
“We advise beachgoers to swim at lifeguarded beaches, check with lifeguards on ocean conditions before entering the water, and avoid areas that are closed off and pose a danger.”
At approximately 11:30 a.m., two distressed snorkelers were reported in waters off ‘Anini Beach – a male visitor from Vancouver, Washington, and a male resident of Wailua.
The Hanalei fire station, the Ocean Safety Bureau North Roving Ski Patrol and a local surfer with a rescue tube responded to the incident.
First responders observed large, 12-foot surf near ‘Anini Beach, according to a preliminary report. Lifeguards with the North Roving Ski Patrol initially located one snorkeler. A local surfer with a rescue tube alerted firefighters on paddle boards of a second individual who also needed assistance. North Roving Ski found the second individual, approximately one-third of a mile offshore, outside of large surf.
Both snorkelers declined medical treatment.
Shortly after 1:30 p.m., first responders were dispatched to search for four visitors from Texas, Wisconsin, Mississippi and Florida near Queen’s Bath in Princeville.
The Hanalei fire station, Rescue 3, Air 1, and American Medical Response responded to the incident.
First responders observed large, 12-foot surf and located the four individuals sheltering against the cliff by Queen’s Bath, with two incurring injuries. One had minor leg injuries, while the other suffered multiple non-life-threatening injuries.
Shortly after, three individuals were escorted by a rescuer to safety and later refused medical treatment. The visitor with more severe injuries was extracted by Rescue 3 aboard Air 1 to awaiting medics. AMR personnel continued medical treatment on the individual before transporting him to Wilcox Medical Center.
The scene was cleared shortly after 2:50 p.m.
Since October, access to Queen’s Bath has been closed through winter in the interest of public safety.
The National Weather Service issued a High Surf Warning for north- and west-facing shores on Thursday afternoon in effect through Friday morning, and a High Surf Advisory through 6 a.m. Saturday.
Entering the water in these areas during the High Surf Warning and High Surf Advisory is very hazardous and could cause serious injury or death. Beachgoers are also advised to use extreme caution, as large breaking waves could make it dangerous for those standing along the shoreline.
The warning and advisory may be extended or modified as conditions develop. For updated information on ocean and weather alerts, visit the NWS website, www.weather.gov/hfo.
For up-to-date information about Kaua‘i ocean conditions and ocean safety, please speak to a county lifeguard at any lifeguard station, visit www.hawaiibeachsafety.com, or call the Ocean Safety Bureau at 808-241-4984.