HFD Rescues Injured Hiker From Waipio Valley Despite Darkness

May 11, 2020, 7:31 AM HST (Updated May 11, 2020, 7:33 AM)
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PC: Damon Tucker

The Hawai‘i Fire Department airlifted a visiting hiker out of Waipio Valley Sunday night after he broke his leg hiking along the river in the area of Hi‘ilawe Falls.

A third party contacted HFD at 7:39 p.m. Sunday to report a man with a possible leg fracture who couldn’t make his way out of the valley. According to the department, the man told first responders he’d been walking along the river toward the rear of Waipio Valley when a dead tree/log he was walking on gave way and caused the injury.

The injured party was part of a large group of hikers who were not adhering to the state’s stay-at-home order, HFD said. Friends of the man attempted to carry him back to their vehicle but made slow progress due to uneven terrain and a loss of daylight.

Members of the group implored bystanders to call 911 for assistance due to poor cell phone reception. However, that made determining the party’s precise location difficult for HFD rescue choppers. Initial search attempts were focused on the Hi‘ilawe Falls area but were unsuccessful due to low light and poor communications in the valley, HFD said.

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HFD Chopper 1 made a final pass and was able to locate the party despite the darkness. Responders performed a rapid extrication via a Billy Pugh net and dropped the patient off at the staging area, where HFD Chopper 2 picked him up and transported him to North Hawai‘i for medical treatment.

It was the second time over the weekend HFD conducted a helicopter rescue for a hiker disobeying Hawai‘i’s mandatory stay-at-home order due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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