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Florida man’s death is third in 4 years on Olomana trail

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A 53-year-old Florida man’s fatal fall from a Mount Olo­mana trail marked the third hiker death on the difficult climb in four years.

The Medical Examiner’s Office identified the man as Glenn Vopper of Orange Park, Fla.

He died after falling about 200 feet Saturday while hiking between the first and second peaks of Olo­mana.

Vopper was a retired Navy commander with 22 years of service, said his wife, who relayed the information through the Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii.

Honolulu Fire Department Capt. David Jen­kins said that the two other men who died while navigating Olo­mana’s treacherous ridgelines and steep drops were known among their peers as experienced hikers.

Off-duty firefighter Mitchell Kai, 27, fell 50 feet while hiking about 100 feet from the summit of the third peak and died Jan. 10, 2014. And social worker Ryan Sue­naga, 44, died April 23, 2011, after falling 150 feet between the second and third peaks.

Firefighters responded to the scene of Vopper’s fall at 11:47 a.m., and the first company and the fire helicopter reached the unconscious hiker at 11:56 a.m., a fire official said. Vopper was airlifted to Emergency Medical Services personnel.

VASH is assisting the family, but because Vopper’s daughter lives in Hawaii and the family has local support, the organization’s involvement is reduced, said Jessica Lani Rich, president and chief executive officer.

Vopper’s family declined interviews with the media, she said.

In Florida, Vopper’s 75-year-old neighbor, who declined to give her name, said she was stunned by the news.

"He was just a very good neighbor to me," she said. "He was my go-to man when I broke things. He was very handy-dandy and very kind."

Hawaiian Trail & Mountain Club President Barb Bruno described Olo­mana as "definitely an advanced trail."

"Getting to the first peak is challenging and will require climbing over some very narrow dike sections," Bruno said, adding that it is "certainly not appropriate for novices."

Bruno said hiking in Hawaii is often much more dangerous than on the mainland.

"Mainland trails tend to be wider and a lot safer," she said. It’s "easy to fall off a mountain in Hawaii."

Jenkins advises hikers to choose a trail listed on the state’s trail system at The Olo­mana trail is not on the list.

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