Fire crews rescue 3 hunters from swollen stream

The Maui News

Firefighters rescued two groups of people who were stranded by rising stream waters in East Maui on Saturday.

Three men were airlifted from a ridge about a mile mauka of Kaumahina State Wayside Park after they were stranded by rising stream waters in the Honomanu Bay area, said Fire Services Chief Edward Taomoto.

Fire crews responding at 4:02 p.m. located their vehicle on Hana Highway near the park at about 4:50 p.m.

Firefighters spoke to one man by cellphone and instructed him to find an opening in the dense forest canopy so the rescue helicopter could locate the three, Taomoto said.

Once they were spotted, rescue crew members airlifted the men one at a time on a long-line suspended beneath the helicopter, Taomoto said. He said all three were uninjured and transported to a landing zone at the park by 6:05 p.m.

The three pig hunters were stranded in the Keanae area when a steambed they had crossed earlier in the day became a torrential river, Taomoto said. The three — a 17-year-old Waikapu boy and two Kihei men in their 20s — had six hunting dogs that they had to leave behind when they were airlifted to safety, Taomoto said.

He said the hunters reported they would go back to retrieve the dogs when the weather improved.

Paia firefighters and a Kahului rescue crew responded.

While the pig hunters were being rescued, a group of four people was reported stranded by a swollen stream in the “Bamboo Forest” area of Kailua, Taomoto said.

Because it was getting dark, rescue crews had emergency dispatchers reach the group by cellphone text message to relay to them that crews wouldn’t be able to reach them after dark and that they should plan to stay in their location overnight, Taomoto said. He said the group was told to turn off the cellphone to conserve power until the next morning. They also were advised to not cross the stream in the dark and were told firefighters would return at daybreak, Taomoto said.

At 5:30 a.m. Sunday, firefighters were told that the four had made it out of the area on their own, Taomoto said.