The first day of 2012 proved to be just another day at the pipeline for the city & county lifeguards of the north shore. Another day meaning a busy one at the famous stretch of beach that Pipeline sits on. A large unusually angled north swell picked up rapidly yesterday afternoon. The swell was missing pipeline but hitting spots like Ehukai & Rockpiles with full force as near 6 – 10 foot Hawaiian size sets rolled through creating a rip current at Pipeline where the waves were no larger than 6 – 7 feet.
Bodyboarders were dominating the peaks at Ehukai & Pipeline as the sun began to set. Strangely enough the lifeguards were still zooming around on their ATV well after their quitting time of 6:00 PM. Something seemed terribly wrong as you don’t normally see them on duty this late. Apparently a local surfer was in distress and was getting sucked out to sea in the rip currents at Gums. He was quickly moving towards Pipeline. It was near dusk and bodyboarders Trevor Kam, Keahi Parker & Roberta Bitzer attempted to assist the man who had a shoulder injury. With the tide dropping to a negative low the current was in full force. A brave lifeguard who was already off duty unlocked the Ehukai storage room and grabbed a rescue board to assist. He made it out in perfect timing before a perfect 8 foot set rolled through on the wide peak of Pipe. Not long after sirens were heard in the distance and all that was visible on the horizon was the rooster tails of large peaks and the pack of humans performing the rescue.
Ocean safety went above and beyond the call as they took the rescue ski out in the dark. They safely pulled the man in as well as the rest of the bodyboarders who could have been nothing less than fatigued. EMS arrived on the scene and assisted the man who was concious. Lifeguard Dave Wassel yelled to the few bystanders on the beach who remained to assist with pushing the jet ski up the beach. More bodyboarders and waveriders came to the aid with the likes of Herman Ano, Mark Balasbas, Patrick & Wayne Viera & somehow Johnny Columbia. Regardless this story goes out to show that bodyboarders and wave riders unite when the time is right for the safety of others. This may also give us the friendly reminder and that old saying by ocean safety, “if in doubt don’t go out”.
We commend the city and county lifeguards of Honolulu for the heroic efforts and success. Without the help of their equipment the situation could have been worse. Always remember regardless of your level of experience to respect the lifeguards and never hesitate or feel too proud to ask them what the conditions are looking like.