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State recruits survivor of 1,000-foot fall from Koolaus for hiking safety PSA

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  • GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Rescued hiker Ian Snyder heads into a press conference at the Plumeria Room of the Ala Moana Hotel on Dec. 12.

    GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Rescued hiker Ian Snyder heads into a press conference at the Plumeria Room of the Ala Moana Hotel on Dec. 12.

The state has put out a new hiking safety public service announcement from the survivor of a 1,000-foot plunge from the Koolaus on Oahu.

Ian Snyder, a visitor from California, in December survived a 1,000-foot fall off the Koolau Mountains and had been in and out of consciousness at the base of a waterfall for three days before first responders located and rescued him.

He was able to wave at the helicopter, but had numerous injuries, including a broken elbow and fractured cheekbone.

The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources and partner agencies reached out to Snyder, 34, to record the PSA in January. He agreed to share his experience, with lessons learned, so that other hikers will hopefully not repeat the mistakes he made.

The PSA for radio and TV advises the following:

>> Only hike alone on managed trails.

>> Tell someone your plans.

>> Consider the risks to first responders.

>> Never enter closed areas.

Snyder shared during a press conference after being released from the hospital that he had used Google maps to hike solo along the Koolau Summit Trail, and was attempting to cross from Mt. Olympus, or Waahila Ridge to Pali Notches.

At the time he said it was a “bit foolhardy” to attempt to do that hike, one of the most extreme he had ever experienced, alone.

“First of all, I’d do more research on a trail before planning to hike it,” says Snyder in an interview near his home in Ferndale, Calif. “Before my accident I always told someone where I was headed. I told my parents the day before about my hiking plans but last December fourth I failed to tell anyone.”

Hikers should also know the trail’s length and their own limits, and beware of misinformation on social media, DLNR said. It is best to hike with a buddy or group, but if alone, choose a managed trail.

First responders were able to locate Snyder using the last known location of his cell phone. The Oahu hiking community also weighed in, based on photos he posted on social media.

Hawaii has a multitude of safe, open trails, according to DLNR, which are on lands managed by its Division of Forestry and Wildlife, and listed at the Na Ala Hele Trail & Access Program website.

“Ian admitted he followed an online map to the trail he was on,” said Bill Stormont, who leads the program. “It is a closed trail and that’s why we encourage people to only use official sources, like Na Ala Hele, when planning a hike.”

Snyder, who is back to hiking, finishes the PSA by saying, “Consider the risks first responders take. I’m alive because of them. Don’t make the mistakes I did. You may not live to share your lessons.”

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