A 38-year-old Lahaina man died after drowning near a spot known as Puka Maui on Sunday afternoon, according to Maui officials.
Maui Fire Department rescue crews responded at 12:25 p.m. Sunday to a report that a man had drowned at the spot in the Kailua area of East Maui.
A helicopter spotted the male victim with five other people on a rocky point near the water’s edge, about a mile makai of Hana Highway, about 15 minutes later. Firefighters were lowered to the remote coastal location by helicopter.
Firefights loaded the victim into a rescue basket and airlifted him to Emergency Medical Services crew standing by on Hana Highway at about 1:15 p.m. Paramedics evaluated the victim and pronounced the man dead at the scene.
The man and friends had made the 60- to 90-minute hike down to the natural rock formation on the shoreline from the trailhead on Hana Highway, and entered the water to swim to the opposite side of the bay, when friends saw the victim floating unresponsively in the water. They pulled him onto a rocky point and began performing CPR, but it took at least an hour for someone from the group to reach Hana Highway to get cell phone reception and call 911 for help.
The incident was Maui County’s 11th ocean related fatality this year.