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Kahului teenager swept into ocean, air-lifted to safety

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A Maui Fire Department helicopter airlifted an 18-year-old Kahului man to safety after he was knocked into the ocean by a large wave while hiking on the Puka Maui trail off of Hana.

The man had been hiking with seven friends Saturday when he was knocked off of the rocks and had swum around the point to the next bay, said Maui Fire Capt. Edward Taomoto.

Friends called the Fire Department at 3:07 p.m. and told firefighters that they had been trying to get to the man for several hours, but could not get access because of steep terrain. Firefighters arrived at 3:35 p.m. and  called in the Air 1 helicopter, which airlifted the man to a landing zone on the Hana Highway.

Despite a large easterly wind swell and rough ocean conditions, the man suffered only minor bumps and scraps and declined treatment by paramedics.

The Maui Fire Department warned people to be cautious near the ocean and said the rescue was similar to a Feb. 16 tragedy that killed two Maui teenagers at the area known as “Shoots and Ladders” in West Maui. 

In that incident, a Kahului woman was swept into the ocean by a wave and her male friend jumped in to save her. Both drowned before help arrived. 

“The Kahului man in yesterday’s incident was very fortunate to have walked away with his life,” the Fire Department said in a news release.

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