HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow/Gray News) - An adult and young boy who were part of a private school’s spring break program died Thursday after getting into trouble while kayaking off Kaaawa.
The two, a 63-year-old woman and 6-year-old boy, were initially taken to a hospital in critical condition.
Two other young children rescued from the water were uninjured.
The group was participating in a spring break program at Mid-Pacific Institute. The Manoa private school said the woman who died was an employee.
The child was not attending Mid-Pacific Institute.
"We are devastated by this tragedy. It is impossible to fully express our heartbreak and shock at this time," Mid-Pacific President and CEO Paul Turnbull said in a statement.
"Upon hearing that this accident occurred, we immediately assembled crisis counselors and are completely focused on the needs of our students, teachers and their families. This is our only concern at this moment."
He told the school community in an email that a professional learning day Monday has been canceled so faculty, staff and others can “come together to grieve and support one another.”
First responders rushed to the scene in waters off Puakenikeni Road and Kamehameha Highway about noon Thursday following a report of an overturned kayak about 150 yards offshore.
Officials said lifeguards and paramedics gave the victims CPR on scene before they were taken away by ambulance.
“I noticed a lot of helicopters, one pulling a kayak and a few minutes later, one had a basket,” said witness Keliko Elkington. “We began to direct traffic and made sure everyone got around the situation."
A Honolulu Fire Department spokesman said the 6-year-old boy was brought to shore by a good Samaritan while first responders brought the woman to shore.
Two other children in the water were rescued, and did not sustain any injuries.
Honolulu Fire Capt. Scot Seguirant said he’s working to determine whether the children and employee were wearing life vests.
He said the area where the incident happened can be dangerous, depending on wind and surf.
"Anything that you’re going to do ... you want to use whatever safety devices are available," he said. "If it’s a life vest, that’s a very good thing to use because nobody plans for something to go wrong.”
Witness Ian Akahi Masterson said emergency responders got to the scene quickly ― and did all they could to help those in the water.
"Ocean safety emergencies, you know, can happen on the calmest of days," he said. "It’s such a beautiful day today. It’s sometimes it’s hard to recognize the dangers, the hazards that are out there."
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