Kauai wave watchers get caught off guard by large swell

A family wanting to get up close to see Mother Nature in action on Kauai got more than they bargained for.

A large swell swept up the beach, knocking a young girl to the ground.

“We had to tell over a hundred tourists yesterday to move back. They were going to get washed away. Then when those waves wash up, they panic and scream, and the parents of that little girl were screaming,” witness Terry Lilley said.

Her family and other beachgoers ran to save her.

“A picture is worth a thousand words and these pictures are just plain scary. Fortunately, everything worked out ok in this case, but it could have been worse,” Honolulu Ocean Safety Spokesperson Shayne Enright said.

Lifeguards statewide say they can’t be everywhere all the time. It’s scary scenes like these that should remind beachgoers to heed the warning signs.

“That tragedy is what we work so hard to avoid and not let happen,” said Jim Ingham, Kauai Ocean Safety.

Kauai Ocean Safety says there were several close calls during Wednesday’s massive north swell.

“Yesterday alone, at three hours at Lumahai must have seen $10,000 of equipment get washed away. Nice cameras and tripods,” Lilley said.

Last year on the Garden Isle, there was a rash of drownings. The county and NOAA are teaming up to launch an Ocean Safety hotline soon.

“Number posted at airport and at concierges at hotels and hopefully people can call this number and get a quick update and have a safe day in our ocean environment,” Ingham said.

“These advisories need to be heard and need to be followed,” Enright said.

On Thursday, lifeguards closed and patrolled north shore beaches from Kee to Hanalei due to ongoing large surf.

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