comscore Man safe after being swept away in river | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Hawaii News

Man safe after being swept away in river

Honolulu Star-Advertiser logo
Unlimited access to premium stories for as low as $12.95 /mo.
Get It Now
    Chad Simeona, with Hawaiian Pakele, at left, clearing debris Friday from a stream that flooded his yard at 47-718 Kamehameha Highway. A floating tree struck his legs and dragged him into the fast-flowing water.

Kahaluu resident Chad Simeona was chest-deep in rushing water trying to clear debris out of the stream behind his home Friday morning when a floating tree struck his legs and dragged him into the surging water.

Simeona’s safety line failed, and an instant later the water sucked him under and shoved him across the river rocks under a Ka­meha­meha Highway bridge.

Simeona’s 17-year-old son, Isaac, who was on the bridge helping family members haul debris out of the stream, saw his father go under. He sprinted across Ka­meha­meha Highway to the other side in time to see his father pop up out of the flow and climb out onto the rocks.

"Good thing it had an area I could grab onto, or I might have got sucked under to who knows where," Simeona said after climbing out of the stream. "I was thinking of my kids, just worried. That was the first time that kind of stuff ever happened."

The experience left him unharmed apart from some scratches and a cut on his hand, "but my yard is messed up," he said. "It was necessary because I know this rain ain’t done, and the river is still flowing hard, and if we left it, it would have been flooded right now."

John Cummings, spokes­man for the city’s Department of Emergency Management, said public safety officials strongly discourage people from venturing into rushing water during flooding. Instead, they ask residents to call 911 for help.

"Our standard guidance is stay away from areas of flooding. I do applaud his efforts, but that could have turned out very badly," Cummings said. "It is very dangerous to go near fast-flowing water during a severe storm system like we have right now."

Simeona, 40, said his yard has flooded before, and on Friday from 3 a.m. on he couldn’t sleep.

He watched the water rising about eight feet higher than normal in the stream behind his home next to the highway.

"Then I saw the tree upstream coming down, and I knew already we were going to get nailed," he said. The 30-foot tree lodged with other debris and caused water to back up even more. Starting at 5 a.m. Simeona’s yard was flooded with three to four feet of water.

"When the rain kind of slowed down, we jumped in the river and cleared it out," Simeona said. He worked with a cousin, a nephew, son Isaac and a neighbor. Simeona waded into the water to tie ropes to the debris, while the others hauled the rubbish out of the stream from the bridge above.

As Simeona removed the smaller debris, he suddenly freed the large tree, which abruptly began to move and struck him shortly before 8 a.m.

Simeona, a laid-off Pearl Harbor shipyard sheet metal worker, said the water was flowing freely later in the morning, and the stream level had dropped.

"It’s something that the city and county or the state is supposed to do, but I guess they wait until we get flooded or catastrophic kind of stuff, huh?" he said. "By then too late."

Comments have been disabled for this story...

Click here to see our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Submit your coronavirus news tip.

Be the first to know
Get web push notifications from Star-Advertiser when the next breaking story happens — it's FREE! You just need a supported web browser.
Subscribe for this feature

Scroll Up