East Hawaii News

Boy Rescued From Steam Crack Near Park Headquarters

April 11, 2013, 10:31 AM HST
* Updated April 12, 10:31 AM
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***Updated at 4:35 p.m.***

A 15-year-old boy from California escaped with only minor injuries last night after falling 25 feet into a steaming crack at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

The youth fell after he attempted to leap over a protective railing system surrounding the crack located between the Kilauea Visitor Center and Volcano House, park spokeswoman Jessica Ferracane said.

John Broward, coordinator of the park’s Search and Rescue team, rappelled into the narrow, chimney-like crack to rescue the boy, she said.

Ranger John Broward, coordinator of the national park's Search and Rescue team. HVNP photo.

Ranger John Broward, coordinator of the national park’s Search and Rescue team. HVNP photo.

Park rescue personnel assisted by a county fire department unit based in the park used ropes to pull the boy to safety.

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The youth from San Rafael, Calif. suffered a bump on his head and minor abrasions in the fall, Ferracane said. Following an assessment by county fire department paramedics, his family declined further medical treatment.

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The incident was reported in a 911 call from the boy’s mother at 6:43 p.m.

“This young visitor and his family are extraordinarily lucky that he survived this mishap,” park Superintendent Cindy Orlando said. “This incident serves as a reminder that park visitors are urged to stay on trails and not engage in reckless behavior while visiting their national parks.”

Orlando noted that rescues like this also put park staff and other first-responders at risk.

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In February 1992, a woman died after slipping into a different steam vent in the park.

The 34-year-old Colorado woman and a 25-year-old man from Washington were sitting at the edge of the vent taking a steam bath when both slid 10 feet down the crack.

The man was able to climb out but the woman fell another 10 feet down, became trapped and died.

Park rangers found it difficult to reach the woman because of what they described as “scalding heat.”

The temperature in the vents reportedly can reach 160 degrees.

Ferracane said last night’s incident was the seventh search and resuce mission conducted by park staff so far this year. Last year, park SAR crews responded to a total of 26 incidents.

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