WAILUKU >> A professional standup paddleboarder is being credited with using his skills to rescue a man caught in heavy surf, the Maui News reported.
"It was definitely a good way to start the day," Maui-born pro paddleboarder Zane Schweitzer said of Monday’s rescue.
Don Rickerd noticed a man lose his board and then struggle in 10-foot waves near Napili Point. He said he watched Schweitzer quickly and easily paddle his way through the surf to reach the man in distress.
Rickerd, also a paddleboarder, said it would have taken him 10 minutes to paddle 350 yards and it would have been too late to save the man.
"There’s not many guys that could have paddled very fast and very quick to save that guy’s life," Rickerd said. "That’s why I believe he’s an absolute hero."
Fire Services Chief Lee Mainaga said crews were sent to help rescue the man, who didn’t need medical attention when he arrived at shore with Schweitzer. There was no information on the victim, and Schweitzer only knew his first name to be Aaron.
"He was definitely looking like he was having a hard time keeping himself up," Schweitzer said. "When I got close to him, he looked a little panicked."
Schweitzer recalled putting his leash on the man’s ankle to tether him to a board and then swam about 200 yards to get the man’s board, which he used to pull him in.
He credited Rickerd for his alert observation that someone needed help. "When you lose your board in those conditions, it can be rough for sure," Schweitzer said.