By Josh Tyquiengco
Hazardous sea conditions nearly cost two people their lives over the weekend and took two others. The Guam Fire Department is advising the community to practice water safety and pay attention to advisories that have been issued by the National Weather Service.
Sunday afternoon at about 1:50 p.m., the Guam Fire Department responded to a 911 call from Abby Crain and off duty firefighter Jerred Wells about two distressed female swimmers that were 200 yards offshore in between the Merizo Pier and Bile Bay.
Eyewitnesses say the female swimmers were on a flotation device and got pulled out by the rough waters, but they managed to hold on to a nearby buoy.
According to Acting GFD Spokeswoman Cherika Chargualaf, rescue units arrived on the scene quickly at about 1:59 p.m. and were able to save the swimmers and transfer them from their rescue jet skis to the U.S. Coast Guard’s boat less than an hour later.
Chargualaf said GFD’s Rescue 3 was able to get the two on to their jet skis and then they were en route to the Merizo Pier when they got Coast Guard’s boat to assist them with the rest of the transport.
Meanwhile, at 2:33 p.m. on Sunday, another 911 call was made for another distressed swimmer, this time in Tumon, just over the reef line outside of the Nikko Hotel.
GFD reports the male swimmer was rescued and placed aboard an ambulance en route to Naval Hospital, with CPR administered.
PNC has learned he has passed away, but his identity remains unknown.
PNC did speak with Nikko Hotel General Manager Hiro Sugie who says they’re not sure the individual is a guest of their hotel. He also says they closed their beach for the last couple of weeks because of hazardous conditions and have advised guests to stay out of the water with lifeguards on duty.
Just days before, GFD responded to a male fisherman that drowned Friday afternoon across the San Dimas Catholic Church in Merizo.
With so many water-related incidents happening, GFD is urging everyone to be mindful of water conditions at all times.
Roderick Meno, GFD Batallion Chief – Search & Rescue Operations, said that if you should enter the water, just enter within your parameters and your capabilities.
“Stay within the reef line and if anything, your best bet is just to use the life jacket at all times. Notify your friends. Never swim alone. And of course, if you’re in the water and someone is in distress, try not to be a hero. Activate the 911 system. Get the guys rolling out,” he said.
In the meantime, the Guam Visitors Bureau’s Visitor Safety Officers continue to actively patrol Tumon Bay because of the hazardous seas.
The National Weather Service and the Offices of Guam Homeland Security and Civil Defense also advise swimmers and beach-goers to avoid venturing out along north and west-facing reefs and beaches as a large west swell continues to generate dangerous surf and produce beach erosion. Officials recommend that residents heed the advice of lifeguards, beach patrol flags, and signs.
A high surf warning remains in effect for Guam, Rota, Tinian, and Saipan until 6 a.m. Tuesday followed by a high surf advisory through Saturday morning. Surf will remain hazardous through the rest of the week. A small craft advisory remains in effect through Wednesday.