A 60-year-old Wailuku man was airlifted to safety after he became lost in the mountainous terrain above the Wailuku Heights subdivision on Tuesday afternoon. Fire officials say the man had set out from his Main Street home at around 7 a.m. for a hike to the “White Cross” near the entrance of ʻĪao Valley, but became lost far above the cross. Crews aboard the department’s Air-1 helicopter eventually located the man at the 3,200 foot elevation and transported him to safety.
The hiker called emergency dispatchers at 12:04 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017, saying he was lost and ran out of water. He told authorities that he ran out of water and did not believe he could walk back down because of exhaustion, heat cramps and said he was dehydrated.
Maui Fire Services Chief Edward Taomoto said firefighters from Wailuku communicated with the hiker via cell phone in attempts to determine exactly where he was at. The man told emergency responders that he was on a ridge to the west of the cross on the mountain near Wailuku Heights, and he could see the fire truck parked on South Alu Road.
The fire department’s Air-1 helicopter had just been released from another rescue call at Kaihalulu Beach in Hāna  when they responded to Wailuku to assist in locating the lost hiker.
The crew aboard the department’s Air-1 helicopter spotted the man at around 1:30 p.m. and then landed on South Alu Road where Wailuku firefighters were parked. Crews rigged up a rope sling on the belly of the helicopter and took off with a rescue firefighter suspended from a 75-foot line attached to the underside of the chopper.
The firefighter was dropped off with the hiker, who was found on a ridge above and towards the south of the white cross put up by the St. Anthony School Alumni.
After securing the man in a harness, the hiker and firefighter were airlifted by Air-1 and set down at 1:50 p.m. in the Wailuku Heights Park on South Alu Road.
The hiker declined medical treatment and was picked up by a friend.