Family, friends mourn Kauai man swept away by floodwaters while saving dog

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Flash flooding on Kauai took the life of a 30-year-old Koloa man Tuesday afternoon.

Firefighters recovered Joshua Bradbury’s body from Waikomo Stream.

It happened at around 2:30 p.m. Tuesday. His best friend, Noah Foote, was with him when they spotted a dog.

“They were just talking about it and Josh’s friend, Noah, said if that dog goes in, man, I’m gonna have to jump in and get it, and it came towards them in a moment,” said Rob Bradbury, Joshua’s father.

“That’s when we realized the puppy was going to swim toward us,” Foote said. “He met me on the other side of the steam, and the last time I saw Josh, he was handing the puppy, pushing the puppy over to me.”

When Foote tried to help Bradbury out of the stream next, it was too late. He was swept downstream and out of sight. A flash flood warning was in effect for the area at the time.

“That’s when I came to the bridge and I knew it probably wasn’t so good,” Foote said. “I ran with my bare feet, and I called 911.”

Fire personnel from the Koloa and Hanapepe stations, along with ocean safety lifeguards, responded to the area to search for Bradbury.

But it was Foote who finally found Bradbury shortly after 5 p.m. along the west bank of the stream.

“I was going to do anything to find him,” Foote said. “It’s frustrating, you know, if we could rewind, right? But he loved animals.”

Bradbury was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. An autopsy is pending.

“It’s a tragedy that you only hear about, that you don’t want ever to ever feel, you know? It’s not a pain anybody else hasn’t ever felt, but it’s a terrible thing,” said Rob Bradbury.

Joshua Bradbury turned 30 on May 18. He graduated from Kauai High School and loved playing basketball.

“He was an amazing athlete, a basketball player. That’s what we enjoyed to do in our spare time is play basketball,” Foote said. “He was super kind. He always found the good in people. I’m going to miss everything about him. I’m really, really going to miss everything about Josh.”

“It was just always obvious to us. Sometimes when you have kids, sometimes you’re not so sure how they are with everybody else, you know? And then you hear the feedback of how good a person they are and how much they’re loved and how big a heart they have, and it just reinforces that person that you hoped they would be, and that’s what he was,” said Rob Bradbury. “The last thing he did was jump in after a dog that he, you know, he just reacted in the moment and did it, so I’m proud of him, the person he is, the man he became, the boy that he was.”

Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. offered his condolences.

“You know, local boy, family man from what I understand, it’s tragic,” Carvalho said. “Again, the message to our people, I don’t know the situation, but you have to be so careful because you cannot determine how strong the water is and what have you. So we continue to tell our people to stay and be safe.”

The National Weather Service confirms that this week’s heavy rain on Kauai was a trailing rain band associated with Lane.

“Anytime you have conditions where it’s unstable and you have a lot of moisture around, heavy showers can fire up at any point,” said meteorologist Matthew Foster. “If we have any kind of hazards like flood watch or warning, take those seriously because those conditions, even if not dangerous at the immediate timeframe, can deteriorate or change quickly.”

Foster adds that Mount Waialeale received about two feet of rain on Tuesday. Hanalei had about 16 inches of rain, and low-lying areas like Poipu received about five to 10 inches of rain.

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