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Tourist from Canada rescued after accidentally driving off Big Island cliff

MIKE MOODY VIA AP
                                In this image taken from video provided by Mike Moody, people work to tow a Jeep to safety after it was accidentally driven off a cliff in Naalehu on Sunday.
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MIKE MOODY VIA AP

In this image taken from video provided by Mike Moody, people work to tow a Jeep to safety after it was accidentally driven off a cliff in Naalehu on Sunday.

MIKE MOODY VIA AP
                                In this image taken from video provided by Mike Moody, people work to tow a Jeep to safety after it was accidentally driven off a cliff in Naalehu on Sunday.
2/2
Swipe or click to see more

MIKE MOODY VIA AP

In this image taken from video provided by Mike Moody, people work to tow a Jeep to safety after it was accidentally driven off a cliff in Naalehu on Sunday.

MIKE MOODY VIA AP
                                In this image taken from video provided by Mike Moody, people work to tow a Jeep to safety after it was accidentally driven off a cliff in Naalehu on Sunday.
MIKE MOODY VIA AP
                                In this image taken from video provided by Mike Moody, people work to tow a Jeep to safety after it was accidentally driven off a cliff in Naalehu on Sunday.

A tourist driving in the early morning dark on the southern tip of the Big Island accidentally drove his rented Jeep off a cliff but was able to swim to shore until firefighters pulled him up with a rope and helicopter.

The man was treated for facial injuries and slight hypothermia after Sunday’s rescue, the Hawaii County Fire Department said in a news release. Police said the 27-year-old was visiting from the Canadian province of British Columbia.

Firefighters, police and the U.S. Coast Guard responded to the cliffs of South Point in Naalehu at about 3:45 a.m. Sunday to a report of a swimmer in distress in the ocean, the release said.

He swam about 100 yards to shore at the bottom of a cliff the fire department estimated to be 50-60 feet (15-18 meters).

Big Island resident Michael Moody was camping nearby to go spearfishing when the commotion from the rescue woke him up. By then, the tourist was already in the water, Moody said today.

The road there is dangerous for those who aren’t familiar with it, he said.

“It goes from a big major road to a dirt road,” he said. “And that’s only about 100 feet (30 meters) long and then it gets really steep, and that’s only about 20 feet (6 meters) long. And then that’s the edge.”

“We have terrible things that happen because tourists don’t know what they’re doing,” Moody said.

The rescue required 16 people and could have been dangerous for those involved because of the high surf in the area, Mayor Mitch Roth said.

“A lot of resources,” Roth said. “It sounds like a careless act.”

While it’s known among locals as a fishing spot, it’s not a popular destination for tourists — especially at that hour, Roth said.

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