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Couple rescued from closed ‘Stairway to Heaven’ trail

    A file photo of the Stairway to Heaven trail

A sprained ankle forced a couple to spend the night at the top of the closed Windward Oahu trail known as the Stairway to Heaven.

The fire department got a distress cell phone call from a man and a woman at 2 Monday morning, informing officials that the woman had sprained her ankle.

The couple were advised to stay in place until first light when the fire department’s rescue helicopter could be launched.

The couple is believed to have started the hike from the Tripler Army Medical Center side of the Koolaus.

The fire department established a command center at Kaneohe District Park and the helicopter was able to locate and airlift the hikers out at about 7:30 a.m.

Haiku Stairs has been closed and fenced off since 2003.

The Navy built the stairs during World War II to access radio equipment at the mountain summit.

The original wooden stairs were built to provide access to a Navy radio antenna atop the Koolau Range in Haiku Valley. They were replaced in 1952 with metal stairs.

The city repaired the 3,922-step stairway, which was shut down in 1987 due to disrepair.

The city had planned to reopen the Haiku Stairs in October 2002. But from 2002 to 2003, the popular hiking attraction became a point of contention with area residents. They claimed hikers were trespassing through their property, parking on their streets, blocking mail delivery and trash pickup and arriving early in the morning, causing dogs to bark and waking residents. So access was fenced off.

In February 2013, a 32-year-old man and 25-year-old woman visiting Oahu from the mainland were cited for trespassing, a petty misdemeanor. The two spent the night in the mountains after they got lost, called for help and had to be rescued by firefighters.

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