The Honolulu Fire Department (HFD) received a 911 call at 7:19 p.m. this evening to rescue three hikers from the Waimano Ridge Trail. Five HFD units, staffed with 16 personnel, responded. The first unit arrived at the scene at 7:32 p.m., established command and investigated further.
It was reported that three visiting hikers, including a 22-year-old male, a 28-year-old male, and a 28-year-old female, had been hiking the trail since around 2:30 p.m. and became lost on the trail due to darkness.
The HFD maintained communication with the hikers via cell phone, informed them to stay put, and utilized GPS to track their approximate location.
The HFD’s Air 1 arrived at scene and conducted an aerial search of the trail utilizing an infrared camera to locate the hikers. At 8:10 p.m., the hikers were located and Rescuers were inserted at their location to secure and transport each hiker to a nearby landing zone at the top of Waimano Home Road. The last hiker was safely secured at the landing zone at 8:58 p.m. No injuries were reported.
Limited visibility due to darkness and heavy canopy presented some challenges during this rescue operation. The HFD urges the public to hike safely and provides the following hiking safety tips:
Bring Your Cellular Phone, Flashlight, Foul Weather Clothing, Whistle
In case of an emergency your cell phone can be a lifesaver. Ensure that your battery is full prior to your hike. We recommend packing an external back-up battery.
Stay on the Trail
Most accidents happen when hikers leave the established trail and disregard warning signs. Staying on the trail greatly reduces your chances of having a serious fall or getting lost. Hawaiian forests are not like mainland forests—the growth is very dense, and it is easy to become disoriented. Thick overgrowth can mask dangerously steep drop-offs. Thin, sharp lava rock can crack beneath your weight above deep holes or lava tubes.
Watch the Time
Getting a late start increases the possibility of getting caught in the dark. Know your turnaround time and stick to it to allow enough time to return. If you are caught by darkness, stay put unless you are very familiar with the trail and have a flashlight.
Wear or wave a brightly colored item in an open area during the day. At night, use a flashlight or camera flash.
Use a whistle to attract attention.
Objectively assess your situation before making any decision. Stay calm and positive.
You will be found more quickly and reduce the chances of getting into further trouble, especially after dark, by staying in one place. This is why it is important to notify someone of your hike location and destination.