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Visitor rescued in waters off Wai’anapanapa State Park

At 10:27 a.m. Monday morning, emergency crews in Hana responded to a swimmer in distress at the Wai’anapanapa State Park in East Maui.

At 10:37 a.m., Hana firefighters arrived at the park’s black sand beach, where bystanders directed crews to the person in the water. A firefighter swam out about 50 feet to a male who was just outside the shoreline surf zone and brought him to shore. The man was on shore by 10:50 a.m. and sustained only minor injuries.

Luckily, the park caretaker ran down and threw the man a boogie board to hang onto until fire crews could arrive.

The man, a 29-year-old visitor from Los Angeles, California, was swimming with a female friend at the black sand beach, when rising surf pulled him out into deeper water. The surf rose rapidly and he was caught in a strong rip current. His female friend made it to shore without incident.

A fire department rescue watercraft had just arrived on scene when the man was pulled to shore by firefighters on land. At some point, the watercraft was hit by a wave, which threw the two firefighters into the water. The watercraft was destroyed after high surf pushed it onto the rocky shoreline. Fortunately, both firefighters made it back to shore uninjured.

At the time, surf in the bay was breaking at about 8 to 10-foot face heights. A high surf advisory was in effect for east facing shores of the main Hawaiian islands until 6 p.m. tomorrow.

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