Legendary surfer Laird Hamilton rescues stranded Encinitas family from Hawaii floods

Posted at 5:35 PM, Apr 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-19 21:06:46-04

ENCINITAS, Calif. (KGTV) -- An Encinitas family is thanking surfing legend Laird Hamilton after they say he rescued them during a flood while on vacation in Kauai.

The Gwilliam family says they were enjoying a normal vacation on the island when, like usual, it started to rain.

The family says they weren’t worried until the heavy rain got even heavier. “It was the type of rain that was so heavy, we would say there’s no way I could get worse," recouted Erin Gwilliam. "Then it got worse."

The family says so much rain had fallen, the ground was no longer absorbing the water. That’s when the trouble started.

Erin and her husband Jamas took photos of the homes all around them, some of which collapsed from the strong floodwaters.

The only bridge in and out of the small town of Hanalei was covered by several feet of water. By the end of their trip, not only had the Gwilliam family run out of food, they also needed to catch their flight.

The family was almost out of time when a friend called with a plan. The plan? Big-wave surfer Laird Hamilton.

Erin says her family was a little star struck. "Being in the same boat as him was a little intimidating, but he didn't let that be, it was just like hurry get on we gotta go.”

Hamilton took them to safety across the river and to a dock where the family was able to drive to the airport.

Erin says she is thankful the surfer came to save them from a dangerous situation. “The ocean and water is his life he was so comfortable and confident in what he was doing, he was extremely capable, having him get you out it was a huge relief.”

Due to the severe damage, Hamilton and his wife have set up a GoFundMe account to raise money. To donate, click here.