Shining moments: A lifesaving mission

Helping with a cleanup project on Temple Beach on the Hawaiian island of Oahu turned out to be a lifesaving mission for Ben Au, former bishop of the Laie 7th Ward, Laie Hawaii North Stake.

Bishop Au and others in his ward were participating in a regularly scheduled service project titled "Get the drift and bag it" on Saturday, Oct. 16, 1993. The members were combing the beach in Laie for debris, picking up the trash and bagging it.At the same time, a BYU-Hawaii sophomore from Hong Kong, Wally Chan, was standing in the surf with a friend, Edgar Wu, retrieving a fishing net that had been cast out the night before.

Wally was wearing a snorkel and fins, standing about 100 feet out in the ocean.

A large wave knocked him off balance and he fell. His snorkel filled with water and he couldn't breathe. Before he could recover, another wave washed over him.

Edgar swam to Wally, who had stopped breathing and was unconscious, and struggled to hold him out of the water while calling for help.

Bishop Au and another ward member, John Mauahi, responded to the call and helped pull Wally to shore.

After first pumping Wally's stomach, Bishop Au turned him over, cleared his air passage and started mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Wally started breathing again, but when he tried to speak he was incoherent.

It was about 10 minutes later that the ambulance arrived to take him to the hospital. The next thing Wally remembered after his ordeal in the ocean was looking at the top of the inside of the ambulance as he was being rushed to the hospital.

There was no doubt that Bishop Au, through his quick response and ability, saved the young man's life, according to P.J. Rogers, who witnessed the near-tragedy.

Wally spent a night in Castle Hospital in Kahuku and returned to the BYU-Hawaii campus the following day, most thankful for Bishop Au's lifesaving actions.

Now Wally is returning the favor by helping Bishop Au, who has some Chinese ancestry, with his genealogy by translating records for him. - Stewart Kirkpatrick, missionary serving with the Hawaii Public Affairs Council

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