NEWS Kauai firefighter who nearly died in life-changing surfing accident says he’s ‘glad to be alive’

Kauai firefighter who nearly died in life-changing surfing accident says he's 'glad to be alive'

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) — A longtime Kauai firefighter who was nearly killed in a horrific surfing accident is sharing his story of survival.

Friends and strangers kept him alive for 13 days.

Fire Rescue Captain Makalii Andrade was foil surfing off Hanalai Island with friends, including sailor Archie Kalepa.

“I saw Maca catch this beautiful bomb from the outside,” Kalepa said. “Then I saw all the skis take off.”

“We realized that, well … something serious happened,” Kalepa added.

Andrade went down in the worst possible way. The tip of the foil wing sliced ​​through his neck, severing his windpipe.

“I knew it was bad because as soon as I dived underwater, the water was rushing down my throat,” Andrade recalled.

“I’ve been in the fire department for almost 26 years … I’ve never seen so much blood in my life.”

Kalepa and Andrade’s other towing partners lifted him onto the rescue sled and headed for shore.

A friend named Asia held his throat to help him breathe.

“He was just there holding my airway, talking to me, telling me I wasn’t going to die,” Andrade said.

Andrade’s lungs were collapsing. They desperately called to the shore for help.

“Thanks to the grace of God,” Kalepa said, a trauma doctor was on the beach with medical supplies on hand.

The stranger took off his shirt to help stop the bleeding. Andrade’s close friends — a group of Hanalei firefighters — were on the scene.

After a long journey to hospital, emergency surgery and days of recovery, Andrade is now home with his wife and two children.

“God has been taking care of Maca,” Kalepa said. “We’ve probably lost him a few times that day … His will to live for his family, his wife and his children kept him alive.”

This is a huge change for someone who has been thanked countless times for saving lives. Now he is a grateful man.

“A lot of people were there to help me,” Andrade said.

“I’m so grateful. Happy to be alive.”

A GoFundMe page is helping him with medical bills. To help support Andrade’s family, click here.

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