Maui News

Maui Lifeguard Issued Certificate of Valor

June 2, 2014, 1:52 PM HST
* Updated June 2, 2:00 PM
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Maui County Lifeguard Keoki Pfaeltzer was awarded a Certificate of Valor by Capt. Shannon Gilreath, Coast Guard Sector Honolulu commanding officer and Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa in an award ceremony held at the Maui County Mayor's Office, May 30, 2014. Pfaeltzer was recognized for his efforts in rendering assistance to a distressed snorkeler off the shores of Ma'alaea Bay, Maui, June 14, 2013. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Kevin Cooper)

Maui County lifeguard Keoki Pfaeltzer was awarded a Certificate of Valor by Capt. Shannon Gilreath, Coast Guard Sector Honolulu commanding officer and Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa in an award ceremony held at the Maui County Mayor’s Office, May 30, 2014. (US Coast Guard photo by Lt. Kevin Cooper)

By Maui Now Staff

Maui County lifeguard, Keoki Pfaeltzer was awarded a certificate of valor from the US Coast Guard during a recognition ceremony at the mayor’s office on Friday.

The award was issued to Pfaeltzer for his efforts in rendering assistance to a distressed snorkeler off the coast of Māʻalaea Bay during an incident on June 14, 2013.

Coast Guard officials say Pfaeltzer, who was off-duty at the time, witnessed a snorkeler struggling in 30 knot winds and strong ocean currents.

He is credited with notifying crews at the police dispatch for assistance, and alerting the individual’s friends and fellow campers at the beach.

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According to information released by the US Coast Guard, Pfaeltzer grabbed his surfboard and rescue tube from his home and began paddling against the strong seas to assist the unconscious snorkeler.

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The Coast Guard further states that Pfaeltzer used his training as a certified lifeguard and began CPR while balancing the victim on his surfboard.

“Simultaneously attempting to maintain position while conducting CPR for 10 minutes, Pfaeltzer flagged down a passing Coast Guard boat to assist in the recovery of the victim from the water,” said Coast Guard officials.

The snorkeler did not survive; however, Pfaeltzer’s “skills, expertise and training as a Maui County lifeguard were clearly displayed as he made a valiant effort to save a life,” Coast Guard officials said in issuing the award.

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Pfaeltzer was joined at the ceremony by his wife, mother and two children. The award was issued by Captain Shannon Gilreathe, Coast Guard Sector Honolulu commanding officer and Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa.

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