Guam – The tents went up quickly Sunday morning along the roadside and on the sands of First Beach.
Talafofo Mayor Vicente Taitague, up all night, helped bring in the tents and chairs. Aunts and uncles, cousins and other relatives and friends started gathering Saturday night, and continued coming Sunday morning. Some in tears, some hugging each other. Other brought food, but few were eating, or talking much, as they watched the helicopter and boats combing the waters off First Beach. A vigil of waiting, and praying.
4 of their loved ones went out on the reef Saturday night. Heavy surf swept them off.
The National Weather Service had a High Surf Advisory in effect last week, but that was for North and West facing reefs, and it was called off at 10am Friday morning. Still, the surf on Guam’s windward east coast remains notoriously dangerous, even when no High Surf Advisory is in effect.
2 made it safely back to shore Saturday night. The other 2 are still in the water.
Steven Torres was one of the 2 to make it back safely, soon after being knocked down. But 18 year old Felix Torres struggled in the water for an hour before getting back on land, with the help of rescue personnel.
“I’m surprised I ever made it back alive,” said Torres. “I managed to make it in, through the waves, got a little scratched up. It’s nothing”
Torres said they were on the reef, setting a net, and the surf was rough. “It came to the point where my cousin asked me if we wanted to stop, we were almost done setting the net. I told him ‘No, we’re almost done. We’ll try it one more time.’ “
“I guess it was just my pride,” said Torres. “But I wanted to see if we’d catch anything.” But then, before they could get the net set, Torres said one of their number panicked. “All of a sudden one of our guys just panicked. And as soon as he panicked, everything just went wrong.”
Torres said he survived by remembering what one of his uncle’s told him. “My uncle always told me, never panic, and never fight against the current.”
Of the 2 missing, Torres said “One was my cousin, and one was a friend of mine.” Their identities have not been officially released yet.
“I hope and pray that we can recovery the bodies today,” said Mayor Taitague, “so that we can close this incident out.”
GFD Spokesman Joey San Nicolas said they are still conducting a Search and Rescue operation.
The National Weather Service had a High Surf Advisory in effect last week, but that was for North and West facing reefs, and it was called off 10am Friday morning. Still, the surf on Guam’s windward east coast remains notoriously dangerous, even when no High Surf Advisory is in effect.