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Missing woman swept out to sea off Kauai identified, search to continue Friday

PRINCEVILLE (KHON2) - The search for a missing woman in waters off Queen’s Bath in Princeville, Kauai will continue Friday, Dec. 6, according to officials. 

Police have identified the woman as Yayun Cheng, 23, of California.

Rescue crews including Hanalei firefighters, Rescue 3 aboard Air 1, and lifeguards on personal watercraft initiated the search shortly before noon on Wednesday, Dec. 4.

Officials say witnesses reported seeing the woman unresponsive in the water. There has been no sign of her since.

According to a preliminary report from officials, Cheng was attempting to climb the rocks near the area known as Queen’s Bath when a wave came up and swept her out to sea.

Over the years, there have been multiple rescues and deaths at the location. Last year, a couple and their baby were rescued after being swept into the ocean by a wave. In 2016, a 23-year-old Chicago man was swept to sea and never found. 

Kauai County put up a fence this year warning people of the dangers. 

"They agreed to build a fence around where the walking path started," said Rory Enright, Princeville at Hanalei Community Association general manager. "We have lots of signage on that fence which expresses all the dangers. ... We lock the fence when they [the county] request it and unlock it when they say it's safe."

Enright says the county makes the determination to keep it locked or unlocked based on wave height and the turbidity of the water. 

But many people have already gone around the fence warning.

"Unfortunately when the county built the fence, it stopped in the jungle and visitors started walking around the end of the fence and basically beat a new path," Enright said. 

He says the gate remains unlocked as it's a public right of way to the ocean, a state law.

"The challenge is the County believes it's their responsibility to have that access available as part of the state law not to block access to the ocean, and that trail is used by local fisherman," he said.

The warning sign is accompanied by a No Trespassing sign when the fence is locked.

County officials tell KHON2 the fence had been locked since Nov. 25 due to high surf. 

"We wish people would read the signs and obey them," Enright said. "Sometimes I think it makes it more enticing for them to see it if there's danger involved. It's very sad, because in some frequency, maybe not every year, we lose someone like the young lady yesterday, and I could only imagine how terrible during the holiday seasons it is to get that phone call."

Volunteers with Life’s Bridges, a grief counseling service, are assisting Cheng’s family.


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