Happened To...
An update on past news

Lifeguards off duty due
to lack of funding

Question: What ever happened to the possibility of Kauai County lifeguards being posted at state beaches and immunized from lawsuits?

Answer: While county lifeguards across Hawaii are protected from lawsuits at state beaches they patrol, Kauai's state beaches are still not staffed by county guards because of funding problems.

State lawmakers passed a law in 2002 providing the state and counties with immunity from lawsuits, provided there is adequate signage.

The law, which expires in 2007, ended a four-year battle that left a number of state beaches across the state without lifeguards. Kauai and Maui had pulled lifeguards from state beaches, fearing the presence of the lifesavers would open up the county governments to lawsuits.

Currently, state beaches on Kauai and Maui are not staffed by the county workers because even though they might not be liable, the state has yet to fund them.

On Kauai the county has given state lawmakers a budget for how much it would cost to put lifeguards at Kee Beach, an extremely popular snorkeling destination that is bombarded with rough surf in the winter.

But no funding has come.

Kalani Vierra, Kauai Fire Department water safety co-supervisor, said that if a report is made of a stranded swimmer needing help off a state beach, lifeguards would most likely respond by either truck or personal watercraft.

One person died while swimming off Kauai's state beaches in 2004, but three of the 12 most dangerous beaches on Kauai are state beaches, according to drowning statistics since 1970. The deadliest beach on Kauai, according to the study, is Hanakapiai, an isolated state beach on the Na Pali Coast that has claimed nearly a person a year on average since the 1970s.

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