Visitor Rescued in Waters off Waiʻānapanapa

November 16, 2015, 7:38 PM HST · Updated November 16, 8:00 PM
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Haili land formation at Waiʻānapanapa State Park. File photo by Wendy Osher.

Haili land formation at Waiʻānapanapa State Park. File photo by Wendy Osher.

At 10:27 a.m. Monday morning, emergency crews in Hāna responded to a swimmer in distress at the Waiʻānapanapa State Park in East Maui.

At 10:37 a.m., Hāna firefighters reportedly arrived at the park’s black sand beach, where bystanders directed crews to the person in the water.

Officials say a firefighter swam out about 50 feet to a male who was just outside the shoreline surf zone and brought him to shore. Authorities say the man was on shore by 10:50 a.m. and sustained only minor injuries.

Maui Fire Services Officer Edward Taomoto said, “Luckily, the park caretaker ran down and threw the man a boogie board to hang onto until fire crews could arrive.”

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Fire officials say the man, a 29-year-old visitor from Los Angeles, California, was swimming with a female friend at the black sand beach, when rising surf pulled him out into deeper water.

Authorities say the surf rose rapidly and he was caught in a strong rip current. His female friend reportedly made it to shore without incident.

A fire department rescue watercraft had just arrived on scene when the man was reportedly pulled to shore by firefighters on land.

FSO Taomoto said at some point, the watercraft was hit by a wave, which threw the two firefighters into the water.

He said the watercraft was destroyed after high surf pushed it onto the rocky shoreline. Fortunately, both firefighters made it back to shore uninjured.

At the time, surf in the bay was breaking at about 8 to 10 foot face heights.

A high surf advisory is in effect for east facing shores of the main Hawaiian islands until 6 p.m. tomorrow.

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