HONOLULU (Reuters) - A teenager cast adrift along with seven crewmates when their boat overturned in Hawaii captured their dramatic helicopter rescue from choppy waters on a small video camera.
The boaters encountered huge waves on Sunday as they were headed between the islands of Oahu and Molokai within the Ka‘iwi Channel, said Honolulu lifeguard Jeff Kozlovich who was one of the boaters.
“We were about two-thirds of the way there when conditions got rough and waves started breaking over the bow of the boat,” he said in a phone interview.
“We got everybody in life vests and jumped off seconds before the boat was floating bottom up,” he said.
Clinging to kayaks they cut from the capsized 21-foot vessel, they pressed the button on a special tracking device - an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon, or EPIRB - to send a distress signal to the U.S. Coast Guard, Kozlovich said.
Using waterproof cell phones, they also began making calls to shore, he said.
After an hour and fifteen minutes of bobbing in the ocean as they held onto the kayaks, the group spotted a rescue helicopter, which made three trips to return the eight boaters - four adults and four teenagers - to Oahu, Kozlovich said.
He said one teenager, identified by ABC News as 15-year-old Mark Reeves, recorded the dramatic rescue on his GoPro camera, a small, rugged device often used by outdoor sports participants to record their exploits.
That footage, broadcast by U.S. national news networks, showed two of the boys as they were hoisted into the helicopter in a large basket. Once on board the helicopter, the boys flash the Hawaii “hang loose” sign with their hands.
“Sadly, the boat has been lost, but we were so lucky everyone survived. Being a lifeguard here in Hawaii, I now know what it feels like to be rescued,” Kozlovich said.
Reporting by Malia Mattoch McManus, Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Eric Beech