Christmas Day surfing accident ends in death of local resident

| January 3, 2013 | 4 Comments

The Puaoi ‘ohana of Molokai was met with tragedy on Christmas Day when 49-year-old Herman Puaoi drowned while surfing at Kepuhi Beach on the West End.

Herman Puaoi

Herman Puaoi with Carolyn Crumpley as they prepare for a day on the ocean.


Surf was large and rough Dec. 25 at the break at Kaluakoi near the old golf course. Police dispatch received a call at 12:40 p.m. about an unresponsive male.

Based on witness reports received by Maui Police Department officers, Puaoi had lost his surfboard after his leash came off. He tried to swim to the beach when he was picked up by a wave that crashed him onto the rocky shore. About 30 to 60 seconds later, witnesses saw his body come above the water face down.

Witnesses quickly pulled Puaoi out of the water and began CPR until medics arrived. He was transported to Molokai General Hospital and later pronounced dead.

Over the past 15 years, Puaoi has worked with Arleone Dibben-Young, Molokai water bird researcher. “He was my right hand man,” said Dibben-Young. The two worked together on various wetland projects that included fencing, caring for sick birds and mowing lawns. “Losing him was like losing a son,” she added.

Funeral services for Herman Edward Kalani Puaoi Sr. are planned for Jan. 11 at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses at 6 p.m. A scattering of ashes will take place Jan. 12, 8 a.m., at Mo’omomi and Kepuhi Beach. A pa’ina will follow at the Puaoi homestead, Lot 99 Farrington Avenue, Ho’olehua.

Category: maui county, News

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  1. So sad to hear about Herman. I only met him briefly in July of 2011, but he was sweet and kind. Prayers for him and his family.

  2. Sanchez family says:

    You will be dearly missed.

  3. frank r magri says:

    going to miss you herman you had love of life he was a great man frank

  4. Tim says:

    I and everyone else really liked this guy. Just loved being around him. So positive and kind. By far the happiest and most stoked surfer I have ever met. Just a wonderful human being. I’ll never forget him. Only met him at kepuhi twice and the first time was like being in the twilight zone. He saw me studying the waves after a long day out and just walked right up making small talk. First and only impression I had was – wow what a happy and nice dude, a very trustworthy person. The next thing I saw was him holding open his cooler, reaching in, pulling out beer and politely insisting I have a drink with him. Fricking classic act and soul that guy was. Just hope some day that I can be like him. He didn’t seem to have a care or enemy in the world. God bless his soul. Tim

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