SUP Rescue: Visitor Caught in Gusty Winds off Molokaʻi

May 18, 2016, 3:55 PM HST · Updated May 19, 5:17 AM
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A 44-year-old woman from Colorado is safe after becoming caught in gusty winds while standup paddle boarding off of Kepuhi Beach on the west end of Molokaʻi on Tuesday afternoon.

Molokaʻi firefighters and police responded to the report at 6:20 p.m. on Tuesday, May 17, 2016.

Hoʻolehua firefighters arrived on scene at 6:52 p.m. and met with the woman’s boyfriend, who had been watching her from the pool area at the Kaluakoi Villas and called for help after seeing her being blown further and further from shore.  He told rescuers that the woman was unable to make headway against the tradewinds blowing upwards of 25 mph.

By the time responders reached the shoreline, the woman was nowhere in sight so crews launched two rescue watercraft to search for her and requested helicopter assistance from the US Coast Guard in Honolulu.

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Firefighters searched the waters from Kepuhi Beach to Pāpōhaku Beach towards the southwest until darkness forced their return to shore.

A Coast Guard helicopter made it on scene and was searching for about 10 minutes, when the woman walked up to the emergency crews at around 7:45 p.m. on the beach fronting Pāpapa Place, according to Maui Fire Services Chief Edward Taomoto.

FSC Taomoto said the woman made it to shore in a rocky area about three miles to the southwest of where she first set out from, fronting the Kaluakoi Villas. According to FSC Taomoto, the woman left her board where she came ashore and was walking back when she approached responders after seeing their red emergency lights flashing in the dark.

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The woman was uninjured and was driven back to the Kaluakoi Villas.

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