Maui firefighters will resume a search Wednesday for the body of a 20-year-old man who fell off a cliff into rough ocean conditions Tuesday morning.
The man, reportedly a Maui visitor, was hiking with three friends along Puka Maui Trail in East Maui when he fell about 20 feet from a sea cliff at around 11 a.m., Maui firefighters said.
He was last seen climbing up a steep rocky cliff area when he lost his footing and fell about 20 feet into the ocean or a blow hole near the water’s edge, said Maui Fire Department spokesman Edward Taomoto. The man’s companions saw him fall and called for help after losing sight of him in the water.
On Tuesday afternoon, Maui firefighters in a helicopter spotted the man’s body wash up on the rocks and get swept back into the ocean, Taomoto said. Crews did not see the man’s body reappear.
Puka Maui Trail is near the 7-mile marker on Hana Highway, and it is a 90-minute hike to the ocean from the highway.
Taomoto said the area was wet from overnight rain and the trail was slippery.
Firefighters searched by helicopter, on a boat and from land, and lifeguards assisted on two rescue watercraft.
Taomoto said dangerous surf of 20 to 25 feet hampered Tuesday’s search.
Firefighters on a rescue boat had to stay 200 yards from shore because of the rough surf, and firefighters on shore couldn’t walk the shoreline, which is mostly bluffs overlooking the ocean, Taomoto said.
In addition, brown water from mountain stream runoff prevented divers from entering the ocean.
Taomoto said firefighters ended their search at about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday because of darkness and planned to shift to a recovery mission when they resume their search at first light Wednesday.