Veteran waterman thanks lifeguards for unexpected rescue

Fred Klettke was knocked unconscious at Makaha Beach.
Fred Klettke was knocked unconscious at Makaha Beach.

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It was an unexpected rescue at Makaha Beach. A veteran of the West Oahu break was knocked unconscious. On Friday, he got the chance to thank the men who saved his life.

The infamous backwash at Makaha Beach has been the source of thousands of nasty wipeouts and broken bones. On March 5, it nearly claimed the life of a Makaha regular.

“The backwash rather than being two feet grew to like four feet and you just hit like a motorcycle ramp and unfortunately, I ended up in a X-Games jump rather than just kind of coming in,” victim Fred Klettke said.

Klettke was knocked unconscious. Luckily, lifeguard Mac Hall witnessed the wipeout.

“I kind of seen him eat it on the backwash and didn’t see him recover from it, so just noticed he was underwater so we just responded,” Hall said.

A surfer got to Klettke first. Hall and lifeguards Bouvey Bradbury and Hall Dannon were on him seconds later.

“Dead basically. I mean, it wasn’t nice, it wasn’t happy to see one of the people we know, one of our friends,” Hall said.

Off-duty lifeguard Noland Keaulana had just pulled up to Makaha to go surfing and swiftly responded to the emergency.

“Fred was out cold and pretty much turning blue,” Keaulana said. “I just jumped in and took over the head and kind of got a good seal on his airway.”

“So many people surrounded him and so much energy went into him. We weren’t letting him go,” Dannon said.

The lifesavers performed CPR for about three minutes until Klettke regained consciousness.

On Friday, the City awarded the prestigious Merit Award to the four lifesavers.

“They worked overtime to bring me back to life, I mean, I was flat-lined,” Klettke said.

“We’re thankful and we’re happy. He has daughters, so they still have their daddy,” Hall said.

If the name sounds familiar, Keaulana is the grandson of legendary surfer and lifeguard “Buffalo” Keaulana and the nephew of Brian Keaulana.

“My grandfather, my uncle, to me they’re all legends,” Keaulana said.

“I’m very proud of Noland, Brandon, and Keoni because the three of them are lifeguards, my grandsons,” “Buffalo” Keaulana said.

Three generations of Keaulanas saving lives at Oahu beaches, and in this case, an old friend.

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