Saturday, November 28, 2015         

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Lost hikers keep fire rescue crews busy across Oahu

By Michael Tsai


The lure of clear skies and dry terrain attracted thousands of nature lovers to Oahu’s public trails this weekend. And that, in turn, translated to a busy weekend for Honolulu firefighters who spread out across the island to rescue lost and stranded hikers.

HFD rescued a lost hiker in the Koolau Mountain Range late Sunday morning after nearly a day of searching for him near Sacred Falls.

The man set off Friday on the Pupukea Trail and spent the night near the summit, Honolulu fire Capt. Robert Main said. 

He called for help around 12:45 p.m. Saturday after he became disoriented in the heavy clouds, Main said. The search was called off at nightfall and resumed Sunday morning. 

Main said firefighters hiked for two hours today to reach the man's location because heavy clouds in the area made a helicopter landing unsafe. 

The hiker was located uninjured around 11 a.m., Main said.

Shortly before 5:30 p.m., fire rescue personnel were called to Manoa Falls to assist a family of hikers who had become separated.

Main said the son had split off from his parents during the hike. When he did not meet them at the end, the father went to look for him. When neither returned promptly, the mother called for help.

The son was found later near Tantalus; the father was located above Manoa Falls. Neither was injured.

Around the same time the Manoa Falls search began, another HFD rescue crew was called to help a woman in her 40s who became disoriented while hiking from Fort Shafter to the summit.

The woman was able to make initial contact with HFD before losing mobile phone connection.

Due to bad weather conditions and poor visibility, the rescue crew was unable to reach the woman via helicopter and it was determined that the rescue effort would resume on Monday morning.

However, the woman, unaware of the plan, attempted to hike out on her own, eventually making her way down the other side of the Koolau mountain range, where she was spotted by personnel monitoring traffic at the Tetsuo Harano Tunnels on the H-3 freeway.

Apprised of the hiker’s new location, HFD rescuers were able to reach her and bring her to safety.

“The take-away from all of this is if you call us for help, stay put,” Main said. “That way we’ll at least know where to look. Hikers should also be prepared to stay overnight — with rain gear, enough food and water to get through the night, a charged cell phone — in case something happens.”

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