With waves breaking at 15 to 18 feet on the outside reef Tuesday, three surfers rescued a mainland visitor in high surf in the darkness at Waimea Bay.
Surfer Igor Lumertz, 31, said he and friends Robin Bond, 36, and Joshua Echemendia, 39, had just finished surfing Tuesday evening when a man came running up to them.
"He said there was somebody in the water who needed help," Echemendia said.
"It was pitch black. We told someone to call 911."
Echemendia said the lifeguards at Waimea had left for the day and he knew it would take time for fire rescue personnel to get to Waimea from the Sunset Beach station.
He said he and his friends, who have surfed Waimea Bay for years, decided to go out again even though it was dark and the surf was building.
"My thought was we’ve got to hurry and we got to go really fast," he said.
The man apparently had gone out with a bodyboard. By the time Lumertz got to him, the visitor had no board, only a fin, and was floating in the water in danger of being dashed against rocks on the Haleiwa side of the bay.
Lumertz said he, Bond and Echemendia helped the man to get to shore, placing him on the front of Lumertz’s board.
"He was very, very tired," Lumertz said.
Fire officials, who arrived five minutes after getting the call at 6:42 a.m., said the shorebreak was about 8 feet high and that the surf was breaking larger on the outside reef.
Echemendia said the surf wasn’t big by Waimea Bay’s winter standards, but that the bay can be dangerous for someone unfamiliar with its currents and surf breaks.
Echemendia said that when they reached shore, the man’s pregnant girlfriend gave Echemendia a hug. The man they rescued did not require medical attention, the Fire Department said.
"I’m just so glad this guy had a second chance to live," Echemendia said.