Dad Narrowly Avoids Death in Hawaiian Vacation Nightmare

Tourists flock to a popular spot in Hawaii where the tide creates a geyser-like water spout from the rocks, but for some it has turned deadly. INSIDE EDITION has the story.

The Scarmozzino family's vacation to a Hawaiian paradise turned to near-tragedy after a horrific freak accident.

"It was a scary, scary time," Laura Scarmozzino said.

But they were the lucky ones–they survived. Another tourist recently died in an identical accident at the same spot.

The Scarmozzinos were in Maui visiting a so-called blowhole.

It's a geyser-like tourist attraction, where the power of the surf sends water through a hole in the rocks and high into the sky.

As a friend recorded the scene, a massive freak wave exploded over the family, smashing dad Pino Scarmozzino onto the jagged rocks.

"It was like a dump truck of water was spilled over us," Laura said.

Another friend tried to rescue Pino, who'd been carried some 30 feet over the razor-edged rocks.

"I couldn't believe the pain that I was in. I felt like I had crushed my ribs…I felt myself just getting dragged in," Pino said.

The couple's 10-year-old daughter sobbed over what had just happened to her father.

"All I saw was him getting dragged down. I was afraid that he wouldn't be there," said Vanessa.

In the aftermath of the massive wave, cuts and scrapes marked Pino's arms and torso. He has a scar the length of his forearm from his brush with death.

But David Potts wasn't so lucky. He died when a wave smashed into him and swept him into the blowhole.

Tourist Rocco Piganelli, who took a picture of Potts immediately before disaster struck, said he saw the man lose his footing.

"He went down the blowhole...and the women screamed bloody murder. It was horrific. And as we looked we all were quiet for a moment, but we realized he's not coming up," Piganelli remembered.

44-year-old Potts is missing but presumed dead after a vain four-day search of the coastal waters.

Now, this lucky dad knows his own family's trip to the beauty spot could have ended tragically, too.

"I feel very lucky to be alive," Pino said.

There's now a sign posted on that very spot warning others not to get too close to the blowhole.