Maui News

7 Hikers Trapped by Rising Water, Airlifted From “Commando” Trail

May 5, 2015, 12:50 PM HST
* Updated May 5, 1:38 PM
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Air One Rescue, file photo.

Air One Rescue, file photo.

By Maui Now Staff

A group of seven hikers were airlifted out of the area often referred to as the “Commando Trail” in the Kailua area of East Maui on Tuesday, May 5, 2015, after becoming trapped by rising stream levels.

Fire officials say the group of three men and four women in their early to mid-20s began their hike at around noon on Monday, May 4, 2014.  On their return trip, fire officials say rising stream waters prevented them from crossing over, so they decided to wait it out overnight.

According to department reports, the area has poor cell phone coverage, and the group was unable to call out for help.

At 1:56 a.m. on Tuesday, May 5, 2015, fire officials say they received a call for seven hikers possibly lost in the Kailua area. The parent of one of the hikers reported her son overdue after finding his car still parked at the trailhead, said Maui Fire Services Officer Edward Taomoto.

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Pāʻia firefighters and a Kahului rescue crew, aided by an East Maui Irrigation employee, found the group after hiking about 90 minutes into the trail, at an area often referred to as the “Lava Tube,” said Taomoto. The group was reportedly safe and were awaiting daylight and stream flows to recede before exiting.

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Air 1 was used to airlift the hikers to a landing zone on Hāna Highway, with the last individual safely transferred by 6:51 a.m., said Taomoto.  The hikers were uninjured and declined treatment by paramedics.

Fire officials said one of the men is a Maui resident; and the other individuals are part of a traveling nursing program and are living and working on Maui temporarily.

Maui FSO Taomoto said, “The group did the right thing by waiting it out on safe ground, rather than risk injury or death attempting to cross a swollen stream that could easily sweep you off your feet and wash you downstream.”

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[flashvideo file=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kudYTe0XDDQ /] The Maui Fire Department issued the following reminders to all mountain hikers:

  • Pay attention to rain clouds present or developing in the mountains above.
  • If it’s raining above, never cross dry stream beds.
  • When trapped by rising stream flow, turn around, and wait on high ground.
  • Never be in a rush to get back. Waiting it out may save your life.
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