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[whitespace] Former Willow Glen resident comes to the rescue on Hawaiian ocean

Willow Glen--Scott Nelson, who grew up in Willow Glen, thought it would be just another day at sea when he steered the charter fishing boat onto the open ocean off the coast of Honolulu.

As the boat--carrying six tourists, the captain and Nelson--headed out of the harbor, Nelson heard a distress call over the radio. As Nelson and the captain listened, they heard the man's voice say, "I'm taking on water, I'm going down."

Nelson said he radioed the boat in trouble and found out they were located on the other side of the island of Oahu, about five miles away.

"It was a windy day, and there were a lot of white caps," Nelson said. "I was feeling kind of helpless, then we saw the white-hulled boat, and it had capsized."

As they approached the small fishing boat, Nelson said he saw three men in the water, only one wearing a life jacket. At that time the Coast Guard helicopter was arriving, and Nelson radioed the helicopter about the boat's location. The older man, who was wearing the life vest, was airlifted to the hospital while Nelson and the captain helped the other two men onto their boat.

"One of the men was crying, and said, 'my dad just died in my arms'," Nelson said. "Apparently, his father was wearing shoes, and a hook caught on a shoe, and was holding him underwater, connected to the boat."

Nelson said he later found out the man died at the hospital. The other two men were given water and Gatorade and remained on the charter vessel until the Coast Guard arrived to take them to shore.

Nelson said it was fortunate that they were able to find the small boat, which had a white hull, among the white-capped waves of the ocean.

"It was like finding a needle in a haystack," Nelson said. "The tourists were in shock, but they all had their video cameras out."

Nelson, who moved to Honolulu eight years ago, works in real estate but said he fills in on the charter fishing boat when he can, and fishes at least three days a week.

Nelson grew up in Willow Glen, and attended Willow Glen High School for his sophomore year. After graduating from Santa Clara University, he coached wrestling at Independence High School. He said he decided to move to Hawaii because he wanted to raise his son there.

"I've been going to Hawaii since I was 8 years old," Nelson said. "I wanted to raise my son in Hawaii, and I figured if I didn't do it now, I'd never be able to do it."
Melissa Matchak

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Web extra to the August 17-23, 2000 issue of Metro.

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