Beachgoers created a human chain to help three swimmers in distress Tuesday afternoon at Kauapea Beach on Kauai.
At about 1 p.m., firefighters responding to a report of multiple swimmers in distress at Secret Beach, observed about a dozen people locking arms to form a chain stretching from the beach into the water to rescue the swimmers.
The group rescued two men, a 42-year-old Austrian man and 24-year-old Kilauea man, according to a news release from the fire department.
Firefighters rescued a third swimmer, a 50-year-old woman from Kauai.
The fire department said initially the 42-year-old man was in distress about 30 yards off shore when the 24-year-old man jumped in to help him. When the woman saw the two men struggling in the water, she also attempted to help, and became distressed.
All swimmers showed signs of exhaustion. The 42-year-old man was transported to Wilcox Hospital and the two other swimmers were treated and released at the scene.
Kauapea Beach is known for its strong currents and dangerous shore breaks, especially during the winter season when surf is at its peak along the north and west-facing shores.
Fire Chief Robert Westerman said, “The quick-thinking and cooperation of this group of strangers likely saved three people from drowning on Tuesday.”
A rescue tube installed at the beach for emergencies had been damaged due to vandalism.