POSTED: 07:23 a.m. HST, Feb 10, 2013
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.