HONOLULU (KRON / KHON) — A San Jose newlywed couple’s dream Hawaiian honeymoon vacation turned into a tragic nightmare this June.
Honolulu Emergency Medical Services said they responded to a 911 call at 10:27 a.m. June 1 at Electric Beach in Nānākuli. The groom, a 49-year-old San Jose man, had been snorkeling with his wife when something went wrong, witnesses told KHON2.
The man was unresponsive when bystanders pulled him out of the ocean and performed CPR on the beach. First responders transported the groom to a hospital, where he later died, KHON2 reported.
The honeymoon tragedy continued when the wife discovered that someone had stolen her backpack, driver’s license, rental car keys, and rental car from Electric Beach. The thief snatched the wife’s belongings while she was watching CPR being performed on her husband, a witness said.
Honolulu police confirm they are investigating a theft and auto theft related to the incident.
The victim’s friend reached out to KRON4 and identified the groom as Steven Phan. The San Jose man worked for Apple in Cupertino and celebrated his wedding day on March 20. His wife was identified by the friend as Brittany Myers Phan.
A GoFundMe page for the Phans states, “While snorkeling tragedy struck. Steven, Brittany’s husband of all but 3 months, drowned. As If this could not be worse, all of Brittany and Steven’s belongings were stolen, the thieves took their cell phones, wallets, money, clothing, they even stole their car rental.”
According to her family, Brittany Myers Phan was still stuck in Hawaii on Friday attempting to get a new ID so she could fly home to the Bay Area for her husband’s funeral.
A witness told KHON2, “I met the wife. They were there on their honeymoon, just the two of them. As if the tragedy itself wasn’t difficult enough, now she has to go through the logistics … because she can’t travel back to home without an ID. She has to go through the due process at the airport to verify. It’s a mess.”
“I’m still kind of shaky inside just thinking, oh my God, they’re honeymooners. It’s supposed to be happy,” said Rhonda Aquino, a local Waipahu resident. “I feel so sad inside, like, cannot believe still.”
Electric Beach is a popular spot for snorkeling on the west side of Oʻahu.
Aquino, who grew up going to Electric Beach, said it can be dangerous if you’re not familiar with the area. “The current gets strong here,” Aquino cautioned.
Electric Beach has been growing in popularity among tourists because of social media, but it does not have a lifeguard, Aquino said. City Councilmember Andrea Tupola said the city will be adding a lifeguard stand and the necessary staffing to the area in early September.