Petaluma couple vacationing in Kauai lucky to be alive after rogue wave hits beach

Bay Area

PETALUMA (KRON) — A North Bay couple is thankful to be alive after a rogue wave nearly washed them out to sea on Kauai’s north shore during their holiday vacation.

The wave was strong, but luckily they walked away with just a few bumps and bruises.

They thought they were playing it safe — having lunch about 40 feet from the water, but when they saw a large wave break out at sea, they knew it was time to run. 

Unfortunately, they couldn’t run fast enough.

“It was just like a washing machine, incredibly turbulent,” Jacqueline Yau said.

“We were being shot like under water cannon, propelled up from beach away from rocks,” said Michael Shapiro.

Shapiro and Yau saw the warning signs posted along Kauai’s Hanakapiai Beach last Monday alerting hikers of dangerous waves and high surf.

So the Petaluma couple stayed off the sand and had lunch about 40 feet away from the water.

“Within seconds I was picking stuff up, trying to reach out for Jackie, and then BAM! It hit the side of my leg and I was like ‘oh my god it’s knee high,’ then maybe a tenth of a second later it was waist high,” Shapiro said.

You can hear Michael shouting in video shot by Yau.

They say the wave submerged them underwater for what felt like 10 to 20 seconds.

You can see in the video how Yau’s hair and clothes were wet from the wave.

Both of them were bloodied with cuts and scrapes from falling into the rocks. 

Others on beach suffered broken bones and had to be airlifted to the hospital. 

No one was seriously injured.

“I actually felt the wave coming at me, full force, the wave and sandy water knocked me back injuries from volcanic rock,” Yau said.

Yau lived in Hawaii for some time and Shapiro is a rafting guide.

Both have tremendous respect for the water, but had no idea a wave like this could come out of nowhere.

“So thrilled to be alive and to have survived what was a scary moment for all of us.”

After they got up and found each other, they had a two mile hike back to their hotel.

They said that’s when what happened really started to settle in.

Today,  they’re doing well and say they’d definitely return to the beach, but they’ll likely stay back just a little bit more from the ocean.

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