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Fire crews assist 13 hikers over Labor Day weekend

By Michael Tsai

LAST UPDATED: 9:36 p.m. HST, Sep 3, 2012

Honolulu fire rescue personnel spent a busy Labor Day weekend in the mountains responding to nine separate emergency calls from hikers.

The first call came at 4:52 p.m. on Saturday when two hikers needed assistance getting off a trail at Kaau Crater. Rescue personnel located the hikers and escorted them off the trail on foot.

On Sunday, a male hiker in Kaaawa became stranded on a ledge at about 12:45 p.m. and had to be airlifted to safety, fire officials said.

At about 2:20 p.m., another hiker was injured when he slipped while hiking the Kuliouou Ridge Trail and also had to be airlifted out.

Less than two hours later, three female hikers became fatigued while hiking in Waimanalo. Rescue personnel located the hikers and airlifted them off the trail.

Rescuers were called back to Kuliouou at about 4:15 p.m., when two female hikers got lost on the ridge trail. They, too, were airlifted to safety.

At about 10 p.m., rescuers were called to the Aiea Loop Trail when a hiker, who became separated from his party earlier in the day during a hike from Waihee Stream, failed to meet his friends at the trail as arranged. 

Fire personnel searched the area until 11:30 p.m. They resumed the search at 5:30 a.m. Monday and continued searching through the day until the hiker appeared, tired but uninjured, at a police substation in Waimalu at about 1:20 p.m.

The hiker, who was unable to maintain contact with his friends because his mobile phone battery had died overnight, told police that he had followed a dry streambed out of the mountains and onto a farm in Waimalu Valley, where residents drove him to a nearby mall.

The emergency calls continued throughout Monday.

At 8:15 a.m., rescue personnel assisted a hiker who had fallen ill on the Koko Crater trail.

At about 10 a.m., a man attempting to rescue his dog, which had fallen down a steep culvert northwest of Wahiawa, found himself in need of help himself when he lowered himself down the culvert but was unable to climb out. Rescuers were able to rig a rope system to safely recover man and dog.

Finally, just before 1 p.m., fire rescue crews were sent to the Manana Trail to help a teenage hiker who lost consciousness and needed medical attention. The girl was airlifted off the trail and transported to a hospital.

Capt. Terry Seelig, a Honolulu Fire Department spokesman, said the nine mountain rescues were two or three times more than would normally occur on a weekend, adding that most of the rescues arose from situations that could have been avoided had the parties followed basic guidelines for hiking safely.

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