Posted on: Wednesday, July 16, 2003
Aloha spirit overwhelms Marine who saved boy

By Mike Gordon
Advertiser Staff Writer

Quentin Gwynn fell asleep Monday night saddened that someone would steal his belongings as he revived a boy who had nearly drowned in Waimea Bay.

But from the moment he woke up yesterday, total strangers wanted to help Gwynn and his girlfriend, Heather Lenhart.

They offered to replace stolen money and help with lost identification. Their hotel — the Ohana Waikiki Village — gave them free accommodations. Someone bought the couple dinner last night.

Most of the offers came from people who called the Visitor Aloha Society of Hawai'i, which coordinated help for the couple.

"People don't even ask questions," Gwynn said. "It is just great. It is just really great. I am really seeing the good side of Hawai'i that a lot of people don't get to see."

Gwynn, a 21-year old Marine corporal from Cody, Wyo., arrived in Hawai'i Sunday aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard. The amphibious assault ship had been on deployment since January in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Gwynn and his girlfriend, a petty officer third class on the Bonhomme Richard, were relaxing at Waimea Bay around 6 p.m. Monday when they heard a cry for help. A teenager said his friend was underwater and unconscious.

The victim, a 16-year-old boy from Pupukea, had no pulse when he was pulled from the water. Gwynn and a 16-year-old tourist from Baltimore, Adam Smith, immediately began CPR.

"Everyone was crazy, but Quentin was really down-to-earth about it," Smith said yesterday. "He knew what to do and got the job done."

The pair revived the boy, who was taken by ambulance to Wahiawa General Hospital. Neither his condition nor his identity were released by the hospital. Gwynn said he learned that the boy was doing fine.

The fire department said the pair saved the boy's life but Gwynn heaped praise on Smith, who is a summer lifeguard at the Beaver Dam Swim Club in Maryland.

"He was the only person who was calm in the crowd," Gwynn said. "I don't think we could have done it without that kid. He knew what to do."

Gwynn didn't learn Smith's name until yesterday. He invited the teenager to join him — and the victim, he hopes — for a tour this morning of the USS Bonhomme Richard.

It wasn't until after the rescue was over that Gwynn and his girlfriend discovered that someone had taken Lenhart's backpack, which along with money, identification and a camera, held the keys to a rented motorcycle.

Firefighters at the Sunset Beach station fed them, then drove them to meet Rika Ikeda, director and president of the Visitor Aloha Society of Hawai'i.

Ikeda said her office was deluged with offers yesterday.

"The phone is ringing off the hook," she said. "It is going bonkers over there. People wanted to help and send things to him. Most of them want to send in some money. Someone wanted to take them to dinner."

The society arranged for a ride back to the Sunset Beach station so Gwynn and his girlfriend could retrieve the motorcycle and ride it back to town, she said.

"He is extremely sweet and so is his girlfriend," Ikeda said. "They are the sweetest couple. They have an angelic quality about them."

Gwynn called the turn of events "a godsend." The outpouring of aloha was the last thing he expected.

"Monday night, late, I was thinking it couldn't get much worse," Gwynn said. "But it is great to wake up this morning and have a whole new life."

Reach Mike Gordon at 525-8012 or

Marine Cpl. Quentin Gwynn and his girlfriend, Heather Lenhart, get a welcome surprise from City Water Safety Officer Jeff Morelock: a motorcycle key that was stolen along with Lenhart's backpack at Waimea Bay.

Marine Cpl. Quentin Gwynn said the outpouring of aloha shown to him and his girlfriend, Heather Lenhart, was the last thing he expected.



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