What an incredible story about everyday angels. If Pam Crooke and Michelle Garcia Winner had not been kayaking near the Shoff family after they were attacked by wasps, former BYU basketball player Jake Shoff might not be alive today.
KAUAI, Hawaii — Wasps nearly claimed the life of a South Jordan man during a family vacation on the island of Kauai, Hawaii, on Tuesday. Jake Shoff survived thanks to the intervention of what his wife described as “angels,” two passing strangers who put their own lives at risk to keep his head above water.
Shoff and his wife, Emily, had taken their sons Zach, 14, Brady, 10 and Grant, 3, out on a pair of kayaks on the Hanalei River. They had started their day with a prayer, asking for safety and were floating down a placid stretch near the town of Princeville when Jake’s boat veered into brush along the riverbank.
It hit a wasps nest. Within moments, the insects were attacking the Utah family. Jake, a former college athlete who played basketball for BYU from 2001 to 2004, sought refuge by overturning his boat, dumping himself, Brady and Grant into the water.
All three had already been peppered with stings. Emily Shoff, who is six months pregnant, fished Grant from the water as Jake pushed the capsized plastic craft toward the opposite bank.
“Two women were heading towards us on their kayak, and I just waved at them and said, ‘Hey, stay away from those wasps,’” Emily Shoff said while recalling the situation Thursday.
Jake Shoff, who is 6 feet 9 inches tall and weighs roughly 300 pounds, was not able to easily re-enter his kayak from the river. The two women paddled closer, offering to help.