A 70-year-old Kansas woman apparently drowned Wednesday while swimming in waters off of Poipu Beach on Kauai’s south shore, county officials said Thursday.

Police have identified her as Janice Klayson. An autopsy is pending.

She is the 12th person to drown so far this year on the Garden Isle. There were just six drownings in all of 2015, county spokesperson Sarah Blane said.

Poipu Beach
Janice Klayson of Kansas drowned while swimming Wednesday at Poipu Beach. She was the 12th person to drown on Kauai in 2016. Courtesy: Kyle Pearce/Flickr

Another visitor drowned on Kauai the day before Klayson died.

Jeff Yann, 73, of California died while swimming in waters off Lepeuli, known as Larsen’s Beach, on the north shore in Kilauea.

Yann and a second swimmer were swept out to sea Tuesday morning. A firefighter brought Yann back in on a paddleboard and began performing CPR, but it was too late. The other swimmer made it back to shore on his own.

Yann was transported by helicopter to Mahelona Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

The surf was reportedly high at the time. Larsen’s Beach, known for its strong currents, does not have lifeguards.

Poipu Beach, where Klayson drowned, does have lifeguards.

She was swimming roughly 30 feet off shore when she was discovered face down in the water, a county news release stated.

Bystanders pulled her to shore and were performing CPR when rescuers arrived on scene shortly after 5 p.m. She was transported to Wilcox Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead, the release stated.

The rate of drownings on Kauai has historically been higher than Oahu despite Kauai attracting far fewer tourists and less than a 10th of the residential population.

Larsen's Beach on Kauai is known for having a dangerous rip current. There are no lifeguards.
Larsen’s Beach on Kauai is known for having a dangerous rip current. There are no lifeguards. Nathan Eagle/Civil Beat

Visitors comprise almost three-fourths of all fatal injuries on Kauai, with drowning being by far the leading cause of death for visitors, according to state health data.

Civil Beat published a multi-part series on visitor safety in January, focusing on ocean safety in particular in light of the high rate of visitor drownings.

State health department records over the past decade show that Hawaii’s visitor drowning rate is 13 times the national average and 10 times the rate of Hawaii residents.

The state, counties and tourism industry spend millions of dollars on lifeguards, warning signs, informational websites, safety videos and other strategies to keep people safe.

But Civil Beat’s review of tourist deaths from July 2012 to December 2015 suggests safety is far from the top concern when it comes to the 8 million visitors who travel to the islands every year.

Hawaii lacks clear and consistent safety messages for visitors before they arrive, and some beaches frequented by tourists that do not have lifeguards probably should, according to ocean safety experts.

Steps are being taken to address those issues, including a working group comprised of stakeholders that’s been meeting regularly and growing efforts by nonprofits to better disseminate safety messages and safety equipment at unguarded beaches.

Visit Kauai Explorer for current ocean conditions and a list of what beaches have lifeguards on Kauai.

Check out Hawaii Beach Safety for real-time conditions around the state and ocean safety information.

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