Female visitor drowns in waters off Haena, Kauai

Kauai County Seal

Kauai ocean safety officials confirmed that a 65-year-old female visitor drowned in waters off Haena Beach Park Wednesday afternoon.

Police identified her as Gayle Kelly of Washington state.

At around 2 p.m. Wednesday, lifeguards noticed three snorkelers in the water waving for help. Two lifeguards responded on rescue boards to find an adult female who was unresponsive.

The other two females, one adult and one child, were fine. They reported that they had been snorkeling together when a strong current pulled them out to deep water.

Lifeguards attempted CPR on the victim while awaiting assistance from two lifeguards from the Hanalei Pavilion tower to arrive on a Jet Ski.

The woman was then brought to shore at Makua Beach, also known as Tunnels, but attempts to resuscitate her were unsuccessful. She was transferred to awaiting medics who continued CPR en route to Wilcox Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

This is Kauai’s second recorded drowning of 2014.

Ocean safety officials remind the public that dangerous conditions can occur at any beach at any time. Always speak to a lifeguard or a local swimmer or fisherman before entering the ocean in an unfamiliar area to help you recognize hazards such as rip currents.

“Swimmers frequently panic when getting caught in a rip current, but you cannot outswim a rip current,” stated Ocean Safety Bureau Supervisor Kalani Vierra. “If you get caught in a rip current, keep calm to conserve energy and don’t fight the current. Go with the flow and allow it take you away from the beach until it releases you. Then, if you are able, swim away from the current and back to shore. Otherwise, wave your hands for help and wait for assistance.”

What to do if you get caught in a rip tide (Graphic: Kauai Explorer)
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