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Surfer dies in large, dangerous waves on Kauai's north shore

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 03:09 p.m. HST, Feb 10, 2013

The surfer who died Saturday afternoon in high surf at Hanalei Bay has been identified as 64-year-old Richard Proczka of Kilauea, Kauai County officials said.

A Kauai County spokeswoman said Proczka’s death marks the fifth ocean drowning on Kauai so far this year. A sixth person drowned in fresh water. 

Friends noticed the Kilauea man's surfboard had drifted to shore at about 5 p.m., but there was no sign of him.

Proczka’s friends called 911 at 5:43 p.m. after searching for him without success.

Officials said the Fire Department helicopter spotted Proczka’s body 200 yards offshore around 6:30 p.m., and lifeguards recovered the body using personal watercraft. He was pronounced dead on shore.

A high surf warning continues on north shores of Kauai, Oahu, Maui, Molokai and Niihau until 6 p.m. tonight. West shores of Kauai, Niihau and Molokai are also under the warning.

A high surf advisory is in effect for west shores of Oahu, Maui and Hawaii island.

Waves are expected to continue to reach heights of 20 to 25 feet on north shores and 15 to 20 feet on west shores.

The National Weather Service says the large, breaking surf is hazardous and can create dangerous currents that could cause significant injury or death. 

“There is a wealth of information available to ocean goers that can alert them to the dangers of the ocean and save lives,” Kauai Fire Chief Bob Westerman said. 

Westerman emphasized that visitors and locals should use the Kauai Explorer website (www.kauaiexplorer.com) to receive up-to-date information directly from lifeguards.

“If we could all get used to using this type of information — visitors and residents alike — tragedies could be prevented,” he said.

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manakuke wrote:
Treacherous winter seas are very dangerous indeed.
on February 10,2013 | 07:20AM
Grimbold wrote:
I have been waiting for this. I guess it is legal to risk your life for nothing but a thrill ride. No pity!
on February 10,2013 | 11:58AM
false wrote:
No pity? Until it's one of your own. Life is a fine thread of choices. The loss of one of us is still grief untold. He mattered to one of us.
on February 10,2013 | 01:47PM
allie wrote:
agree..it was a just a matter of time before this happened
on February 10,2013 | 12:24PM
false wrote:
The adrenalin fix is so satisfying. The accomplishment verifies reality. What is the sacrifice. Celebrating risk taking puts many in vulnerable situations for the RUSH. So sad. Be smart. Live. NO unnecessary risk taking. What is the gain? What is the loss?
on February 10,2013 | 08:18AM
Dizzle wrote:
Disjointed incoherent comments. Unnecessarily punctuated. By one. Who. Obviously. Doesn’t. Surf.
on February 10,2013 | 10:41AM
false wrote:
So what do you get from surfing a 25 foot wave? No rush? Free. The thrill of the freedom of surfing. 100 foot wave was like riding on cream or a total muscle event to survive along with the adrenalin rush reported. So why do you surf and risk the grief imposed on family. Doing what you love? How does a mother respond to that loss?
on February 10,2013 | 11:38AM
allie wrote:
Australians and mainlanders seem to handle the huge sufer better.
on February 10,2013 | 12:24PM
thatsashame_0723 wrote:
No, not really.
on February 10,2013 | 01:11PM
allie wrote:
it is a fact..looks who wins the big wave titles world wide. Just stating a fact
on February 10,2013 | 03:01PM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
Allie, now you are just trolling. Please stop.
on February 10,2013 | 01:22PM
tiki886 wrote:
And pig hunters in Hawaii can shoot arrows better than Indians in N. Dakota.
on February 10,2013 | 01:55PM
hanalei395 wrote:
"Mainlanders"? What's so "main" about them. Continentals is the better term.
on February 10,2013 | 02:38PM
allie wrote:
it is the mainland
on February 10,2013 | 03:00PM
hanalei395 wrote:
For real locals, Hawai'i is THE main land.
on February 10,2013 | 03:09PM
aomohoa wrote:
R.I.P. You died doing what you love. Sad for the family though.
on February 10,2013 | 08:49AM
cojef wrote:
Risk taking is the "Rush"? To die so young just for the rush? Guess the "adrenaline rush" is a form addiction with its consequences, just like meth and coke. No, it's a sport activity like ski jumping the slopes. Go figure!
on February 10,2013 | 11:59AM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
This man died "young" at age 63. He surfed the bay every winter for 40 years. He was a sweet kind man who lived quietly, owned his own business, never hurt a soul and doesn't deserve your anger.
on February 10,2013 | 01:25PM
tiki886 wrote:
You know who it is? But you're right. The critics have never surfed. It's still more risky to drive a car or cross a busy street. There is a difference between risk taking and being reckless. The critics don't know the difference.
on February 10,2013 | 01:51PM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
Yeah, I do. He was a sweet, kind man.

Surfing is an incredible sport that requires, agility, and focus. As you know, you can die lots of ways, and if you never do anything, you'll probably die in bed.
on February 10,2013 | 02:01PM
sluggah wrote:
RIP, sorry to hear, pay no attention to the idiots who talk trash here, they don't surf, so they no understand.
on February 10,2013 | 03:43PM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
One tribute to Rick:


(I didn't write this, I'm just re-posting it)
on February 10,2013 | 03:02PM
I don't like to risk my life for nothing, not even a sport. My sympathy goes out to his family. The only time I had to do that was after intense training and they sent me to Vietnam in 1969. When I returned, life meant so so much to me.
on February 10,2013 | 08:16PM
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