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“Unprecedented Spike in Ocean Drowning Incidents,” 9 Deaths in 13 Days

January 29, 2018, 12:21 PM HST · Updated February 27, 7:18 PM
Nikki Schenfeld · 113 Comments
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Wailea Beach

With a paved path to walk past the Wailea resorts, this is a fun area to visit. Wailea Beach is adjacent to restaurants and shops with restrooms and equipment rentals. Though it can be crowded with tourists, Wailea Beach is really beautiful. Often you’ll find a local company offering stand up paddle boards for rent as well as access to a large trampoline over the water.

Nine men have died in Maui waters between Jan. 14 – 27, 2018. The latest incident was on Saturday when a 71-year-old man from Berkeley, California was pulled from waters off Maluaka Beach in Mākena. Fire officials have confirmed the man died while at the hospital.

“In the last few weeks Maui has experienced an unprecedented spike in ocean drowning incidents,” said Maui County Fire Services Chief Edward Taomoto.

Two ocean drownings occurred on Jan. 14, “which was the start in a string of fatal drownings we’ve had since,” Taomoto added.

Fire officials said they were unable to previously send out information on the first two drownings.

On Sunday, Jan. 14, emergency crews responded to a person being brought to shore north of Alaeloa Point near 5165 Lower Honoapiʻilani Road, in Nāpili around 11:15 a.m.

When crews arrived at 11:21 a.m., the victim was seen on the shore in the cove fronting Alaeloa property swimming pool and no CPR was being given.

Firefighters administered CPR until Nāpili medics arrived. The victim was eventually transported to MMMC in critical condition. When the victim left scene, he had no pulse. Fire officials have confirmed that the victim died while at the hospital.

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The victim was a 50-year-old male of Nāpili, Maui. The man was fishing on the shoreline and its unknown how he ended up in the water. A surfer brought the victim in to shore unresponsive.

Firefighters and medics from Nāpili responded to the incident.

Also on Sunday, Jan. 14, a 69-year-old male from Kula died after being pulled from the water at Wailea Beach.

At 1:57 p.m., emergency officals were dispatched to Wailea Beaach fronting the Four Seasons Resort for a person being pulled out of the ocean.

Fire crew arrived at 2:04 p.m. to find bystanders and resort personnel on the beach performing CPR on the male victim. Fire crew took over CPR until Wailea medics arrived. The victim could not be revived and was pronounced dead at scene.

Fire officials say the man was reported to be swimming an unknown distance from shore when he suddenly sank underwater. Bystanders reportedly pulled the victim to shore soon after and started immediate CPR.

These incidents were reported before the death of two California men, a 50-year-old man from Oakland, California on Jan. 18, and a 67-year-old visitor from Castro Valley, California on Jan. 20 at Kamaʻole Beach Park III; the death of a 66-year-old visitor from Saskatchewan, Canada on Monday, Jan. 22, at Ulua Beach in Wailea; and a 57-year-old man from Montgomery, Texas was pulled unresponsive from waters at Oneuli Beach while scuba diving on Wednesday morning.

There were two scuba deaths on Maui on Friday. A 52-year-old man from Saint Paul, Minnesota died after being pulled unresponsive from waters off of Olowalu while on a snorkel cruise on Friday morning. The other involved 62-year-old male visitor from Salem, Oregon who died after he was found floating face down in the ocean in Kā‘anapali while snorkeling with a friend on Friday afternoon.

Nikki Schenfeld
Nikki joined the Maui Now team in 2016 as a writer/reporter. Originally from Chicago, she has had internships with CBS2 Chicago and Comcast SportsNet Chicago where she had the opportunity to interview some of Chicago's best athletes. She graduated from Columbia College Chicago in 2010 with a Bachelor's degree in Broadcast Journalism. She moved to Maui in 2013.

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