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  • Writer's pictureNatalie Jones Pantaleon

Sunday Survival Story! Woman survives near drowning; family is seeking teen rescuer

Updated: Jun 21, 2020

The Maui News, Nov 19, 2019

A woman who was taken to the hospital in critical condition in a near-drowning incident at Honolua Bay has survived, according to her family.

“She’s not only survived, nurses and doctors said she’s one of the luckiest people they’ve had come into the hospital,” son Jeffrey Shiau said Monday.

Shiau’s mother, 65-year-old Jiin Hwa Shiau, was snorkeling at Honolua Bay on Wednesday. Emergency crews got a call about a possible drowning there at 11:47 a.m. A lifeguard brought her to shore aboard a rescue watercraft, where firefighters and medics were waiting, according to the Maui Fire Department. She was assessed and transported by ambulance to Maui Memorial Medical Center.

Jeffrey Shiau declined to say what happened to his mother while she was snorkeling, but he said the family wanted to thank the 15-year-old girl who first spotted his mother in trouble, jumped in and pulled her up.

He asked that if anyone knows the girl’s name, that they reach out to him at

Both mother and son are from the San Francisco Bay Area. Jeffrey Shiau said his mother is “already joking about going snorkeling next week,” though he said that’s not going to happen. She also has some recovery ahead, but “all things considered, it’s just a miracle.”

From all of us at the PPCD, we are so grateful for this woman’s survival and for the humanity displayed.

We are happy to share this story and hope it reaches the kind human that assisted her. When looking for takeaways from this experience, we are once again reminded of the power and swiftness of open water environments. There are several variables that are out of our control when we are in open waters. We must respect that and be prepared to handle unexpected changes & challenges. One safety practice is to always swim/snorkel with a partner. Another survival technique everyone needs to know would be how to turn over to float in any aquatic emergency. Finally, knowing CPR can make the difference between life & death in drowning situations. For more details about water safety, please visit

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