17 Year Old Exchange Student Drowns at Hapuna Today

On Sunday (February 8), personnel from the Hawaii Police Department and the Hawaii Fire Department responded to a possible drowning at Hapuna Beach Park reported by county lifeguards.

A 17-year-old boy was found unresponsive in shallow waters off the beach, where lifeguards retrieved the body. Lifeguards immediately started cardio-pulmonary resuscitation. Fire rescue personnel took the boy to North Hawaii Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 11:39 a.m.

The victim is a visiting student from Japan here in Hawaii on a student exchange program. He was with fellow students and teachers on a field trip at the beach park when the incident occurred. His name is being withheld pending notification of family members.

14 Responses

  1. I was not present when this tragedy unfolded, I arrived hours later. But I do have 6 years of ocean lifeguarding experience. I was trained to spot my rescues in the parking lot and make the safety contact before they get across the sand and get wet. Strictly from comments read on the internet this group clearly stood out to numerous people as not experienced with the situation. The guards must be in mourning. Any human being on the beach that day probably is that the whole thing happened, and could have been prevented. I have to say with the number of hours I spend on that beach, I do not see a lot of preventative measures other than faded and rusty signs that numerous people overlook….or perhaps can’t even read. May I suggest that lifeguards get out of their towers and contact people, especially on particularly rough sea days and educate people of dangers and conditions. Don’t wait for the rescue but prevent it in the first place. Contact the chaperons of groups of children/visitors, give a safety talk. Explain the dangers. I can’t say that I have ever seen that happen. I bring groups of students to the beach and have never been approached by a lifeguard. I have spend days on that beach and never even knew what the lifeguard looked like until they jumped on their atv to gather their faded equipment at 4:30. It should not be that way. I sincerely hope that this tragedy brings better awareness and new resources (to include funding for more staff and new equipment) to the people entrusted to watch over our beaches and our families. Rest in peace young man. My prayer to his family and friends. Mahalo and God Bless

  2. Scanning with binnoculars is a poor technique for lifeguards, as it gives them “tunnelvision”. Better to scan with god given eyes. Don’t be so quick to criticize the County guards. They save hundreds a year, and unfortunately, lose a few. Hapuna is a very dangerous and deceptive beach even under good conditions. A person can slip under water in a second, while lifeguards are watching other weak swimmers elsewhere.

  3. I would just like to clarify again that the police report is wrong!! He was not retrieved by lifeguards and CPR was preformed by a registered nurse who responded before they did!
    I am sure that the lifeguards were the ones who gave the false information to the police, (that is how they made their report) obviously.. because if they had told the truth it would make them look very irresponsible & incompetent. Their job is to save lives, they get paid to be watchful & ready to rescue at ALL TIMES! True, they can’t save everyone but if they were paying more attention they would have noticed the boy being pulled to shore by someone, other than a lifeguard and they would have ran over to him immediately, before a registered nurse starting giving CPR! Even better still, perhaps if they were scanning the waters with binoculars prior to him being pulled ashore, they would have noticed him being pounded by a wave, then never reappearing. He must have been in that water for at least 10 minutes before he was pulled out.

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