A kite surfer goes on a life-saving ride
When the wind's up, kite surfers converge on Kailua Beach. Monday afternoon, Sammie Perez Hults was one of those who launched his kite in the blustery conditions.
His ride around the bay then took a detour when he noticed a kite floundering on the water, while its rider lay motionless -- hundreds of yards offshore.
"I saw him floating upside down and thought maybe he was taking a rest. One second passed then two, and I realized he was not coming up," said Samuel Perez Hults, a Kailua kite surfer.
That kite surfer was 59-year-old John Loucey, who blacked out in the middle of the bay.
"I thought he was dead. Once I flipped him over though, I saw a lot of foam and water come out of his mouth," said Perez Hults.
Perez Hults alerted other kite surfers to call 911 as he used his sail to haul Loucey's nearly lifeless body back to shore.
Witnesses said the rescue only took about 10 minutes, but each second was critical, because Loucey was unconscious and in bad shape by the time he reached the beach.
"He was a little blue, but at that point we determined he did have a pulse and was breathing," said Keith Halemano, a lifeguard with the Ocean Safety Division.
Loucey was taken to Castle hospital's intensive care unit, where he remains.
On Tuesday, kite surfers hitting the beach shared news of the dramatic rescue, and Loucey's amazing recovery. After being close to death, Loucey has recovered enough that he is now alert and talking -- and even had something to say to Perez Hults.
"When I came to see him, he was happy to see me," Perez Hults said. "He laughed and said 'Thank you Sammie. I appreciate your help.' Then my stomach had butterflies and I was like, 'Yeah! He made it.'"
On Monday, Loucey's life nearly ended in the ocean off Kailua, but already he has plans to be back in the ocean. "I told him to slow down, but he said 'Tuesday I'll be out of here and Friday I'll be out in the water,'" said Perez Hults.
Loucey's family said before he goes kite surfing again, doctors want to find out why he blacked out in the first place.
Meanwhile, lifeguards said this was a great example of people watching out for one another in the water and acting quickly in an emergency.