Police identify apparent drowning victim

KAILUA-KONA — Officials identified a man who died from apparent drowning Tuesday at Makalawena Beach in Kona.

Police identified the man as Tri Le, 24, of Annapolis, Md.


Hawaii Police Department Maj. Robert Wagner said Wednesday that two people were throwing a football onshore when the ball went into the water. Le went to retrieve it, but got into trouble.

At about 3 p.m., dispatch received a call of swimmers in distress at Makalawena. Fire officials initially reported the swimmers got caught in a riptide.

One of the men who had been tossing the football jumped in the water in an attempt to pull Le to safety. However, Wagner said when the 26-year-old Alaska man reached Le, he also began to struggle as the Maryland man climbed on top of him to stay above water.

Both men eventually made it to shore and a bystander started CPR on Le. When Hawaii Fire Department personnel arrived at the scene, they immediately took over but were unable to resuscitate Le.

On Tuesday, Wagner said the water wasn’t safe because of weather conditions.

Le died before authorities could take him to the hospital. The Alaska man who assisted Le was brought to the staging area by helicopter then taken to Kona Community Hospital by ground ambulance.

Wagner said it’s important to use a flotation device when attempting a water rescue.


“Because they will grab you to stay above water and they could drown you, too,” Wagner said.

Email Tiffany DeMasters at tdemasters@westhawaiitoday.com.