Drownings in Kahala sobering reminder for visitors to be safe in ocean

Two California men in their 30s drowned yesterday in waters off the Kahala coast. A third man in the group was rescued and is currently hospitalized.

Veteran beach goers who live in Hawaii will tell you that the ocean can be a friend or a foe. They also say that we owe it to our visitors to emphasize that fact.

Following Saturday afternoon’s drownings off Kahala, officials say kamaaina have to make sure our visitors know their limits, too.

“We do have a responsibility as residents to share with our visitors information that we know,” said Jessica Lani Rich of the Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii, “such as don’t into the high surf, don’t leave your valuables in your car when no one’s around, and don’t go hiking in dangerous areas.”

There is a tendency to believe when we’re on vacation, we are invincible, especially in a place like Hawaii.

“We do live in paradise, but paradise also means that you need to be careful,” Rich said. “Our residents should share information — be careful when you go out in the water, be careful when you go out at night in a dangerous area.”

Veteran diver Kerwin Lum said of the conditions off Kahala that “you don’t feel the current when you’re swimming out to the breakers. It’s when you’re coming in, that’s when you really feel the pull.

“We’ve had a number of fatalities here in large part because people really don’t know the power of the ocean here, which can be very, very strong.”

There is no lifeguard station at this particular beach in Kahala.

“What happened yesterday, obviously, was extremely heart breaking,” said Shayne Enright of the Dept. of Emergency Services, “and we’ve got to emphasize, and we have ask the community to help us out, and ask people to swim where there is a lifeguard.”

“Know your limits,” Lum said. “That’s not weakness, that’s wisdom.”

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