A Kailua-Kona fishing captain has died following a bizarre encounter with a swordfish that left him impaled through the torso.
Randy Llanes, 47, had dived into Honokohau Harbor with flippers and a speargun, and speared the fish in the southeast corner of the boat harbor. The billfish then went into a frenzy, circled and came back around on Llanes, striking him in the chest.
“The rope wrapped around a buoy and the fish came right back,” said a charter boat captain who asked not to be identified.
Takashi Fujiwara was piloting a yellow and black Zodiac for the tour company Nature School and had arrived back in harbor to watch the man jump into the water after the fish. A billfish in Honokohau Harbor is virtually unheard of, and his group was excited at the prospect of seeing one when they realized something was wrong.
“It looked like he shot the swordfish,” Fujiwara said. “We saw blood in the water and thought he got it. Then we realized he was in an emergency situation.”
One of Fujiwara’s crewmen jumped in the water to assist Llanes. The crew pulled the injured man onto the Zodiac and took him to the dock, where bystanders performed CPR. Another Kailua-Kona charter boat captain performed chest compressions while waiting for emergency responders to arrive. The bysteanders were unable to restart Llane’s heart dockside, according to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.
The Hawaii County Fire Department responded to several emergency calls at 10:47 a.m., and arrived to find CPR in progress. Medics continued CPR during transport to Kona Community Hospital, where the patient arrived at 11:27 a.m., according to firefighters. He was pronounced dead shortly afterward.
Swordfish, a signature species of the Kona coast, can be aggressive when threatened. Equipped with great speed and a sharp bill, the fish have been known to attack anglers and boats. But Friday morning’s encounter left the harbor somber and shaken.
“First swordfish I’ve seen in the harbor in the 37 years I’ve been here,” the charter captain said. “What are the chances?”