East Hawaii News

Lost 62-Year-Old Hiker Rescued on Mauna Loa

May 28, 2013, 12:12 PM HST
* Updated May 29, 10:34 AM
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***Updated at 1:11 p.m. with additional details.***

A 62-year-old Honolulu man who had become lost while hiking down from the summit of Mauna Loa late Monday afternoon was rescued that night by a team from Pohakuloa Training Area.

Eight personnel from Pohakuloa Training Area, a US Army base located on Saddle Road, and three search and rescue teams from the Hawaii Fire Department responded to a 5:19 p.m. call about the man missing on the 13,677-foot volcano.

Rescuers arriving at the Mauna Loa Observatory at the 11,135-foot elevation interviewed two hikers who reported encountering and trying to assist the Honolulu man, identified as William R. Loftin, who had become disoriented while trying to make his way down to the observatory.

The hikers said that they tried to help Loftin but were unable to move him.

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They said they had last seen him approximately two miles from the observatory, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration facility which conducts atmospheric sampling.

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A search of the area was initiated by both fire department and PTA teams using off-road vehicles.

Some time later, members of one of the PTA teams saw a faint light. After proceeding on foot, they located the hiker about 500 feet off the trail.

PTA officials said the team placed the man, who was described as being in advanced stages of hypothermia and respiratory distress, into a “cold-weather” suit and administered oxygen.

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With the help of a second crew, the hiker was carried out to the trail on a litter and then brought down to the observatory.

The hiker was then transported by fire department personnel to Hilo Medical Center.

His condition was not immediately available.

Search efforts were hampered by heavy cloud cover and rainy and windy conditions, Capt. David Minor, of the Kaumana Fire Station, said in a statement issued today.

Fire department and PTA rescue teams have combined forces in the past to search for missing hikers.

The most recent incident occurred in October when five members of a group of six lost their way while hiking down to the observatory.

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