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stranded Woman swept out to sea, 54 hikers stranded at Hanakapi‘ai Beach

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Posted: Friday, February 22, 2013 1:00 am

KE‘E — Air One confirmed one female slipped out to sea Thursday afternoon at Hanakapi‘ai Beach along the Na Pali Coast.

The woman was part of a group of hikers who were stranded on the far side of a swollen Hanakapi‘ai Stream while en route back to the Kalalau trailhead at Ke‘e Beach Thursday afternoon.

County of Kaua‘i officials report the woman was apparently swept downstream while attempting to cross the stream. The woman’s identity is not yet known.

At the same time, Kaua‘i Fire Department officials were working to help 54 stranded hikers to shelter in place along the Hanakapi‘ai Stream until rescue crews could return this morning. Crews brought in bags of blankets and other necessities to help the hikers through the night.

Two rescue personnel were among the group who were stranded for the night.

Communication was limited to yelling at people to stay put until helicopters could return at first light this morning. Rescuers were also preparing to set up ropes to help people cross the river if possible.

Rescue crews reported seeing three additional people still stuck near Hanakapi‘ai Falls, though it was unclear at press time if they were part of the group of 54 hikers.

“The wind conditions are nasty up there,” one rescuer said over the scanner. He said crews were unable to talk with the three hikers, but expressed hope that they would shelter in place overnight.

“We hope they will,” one rescuer said.  

Firefighters from the Hanalei Fire Station hiked into Hanakapi‘ai to assist the stranded hikers.

Fire officials reported a rise in the stream’s water level due to rainy conditions throughout the day.

At around 3:45 p.m., hikers coming out of Hanakapi‘ai Valley notified Ke‘e Beach lifeguards of the stranded hikers, according to county officials.

Rescue teams were called in around 4:30 p.m. to assist hikers who were having difficulty crossing the Hanakapi‘ai Stream from the Kalalau side back to the trailhead.

 Initial reports said there were at least 20 stranded hikers.

Some hikers attempted crossing the swollen stream before help arrived, according to county officials.

Scanner chatter indicated none of the hikers were in need of medical attention.

The Coast Guard, along with Air 1 with Rescue 3, Engine 1 and lifeguards from the Ocean Safety Bureau were dispatched on Jet Ski from Ke‘e Beach as part of the rescue efforts.

Rescuers continued searching the coastline until nightfall for any signs of the woman who was swept out to sea.

Several hikers were already attempting to cross on their own by the time fire officials arrived on scene. Officials did report that the stream was swollen due to rainy conditions throughout the day.

By 5:15 p.m., there were reports of surf with 6-to 8-foot faces.

The missing woman’s husband reportedly hiked out with fire officials and met with a Life’s Bridges representative.

Hanakapi‘ai Beach is the island’s deadliest, with 29 drowning deaths since 1970, according to a 2011 report, “Drowning Deaths in the Nearshore Marine Waters of Kaua‘i,” by Charles Troy Blay.

High waves and strong currents run year-round, and winter months are especially dangerous, according to the report.

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  • phyllum69 posted at 12:12 pm on Mon, Feb 25, 2013.

    phyllum69 Posts: 10

    Way to presume, there, Stormy. Feel better?

  • cowboy posted at 7:35 pm on Sat, Feb 23, 2013.

    cowboy Posts: 0

    dkonad::: I agree with you that is what I said earlier

  • dkonad posted at 12:00 pm on Sat, Feb 23, 2013.

    dkonad Posts: 9

    I don't get it! Is this not common sense! All over the world there are people who try to cross flooding streams! This is not just in Hawaii! There was Flash flooding, you don't cross! Turn around, don't drown! Rescue and police knew people were stranded there, most would be tourist! Those cars they knew were rentals! That also is common sense. Criminals not look at weather and say maybe I should stay home. They look for opportunity. There should have been police there where the rental cars were, in the parking lot.

  • royalroots1 posted at 7:29 am on Sat, Feb 23, 2013.

    royalroots1 Posts: 25

    They should close the trail to tourists! Who in their right state of mind would go hiking up hanakapiai or even the na Pali with all this rain going on! Kauai is a very sacred place with a lot of history and when people come here they look down on locals and think they are invincible. Our ancestors think other wise. Many places were closed due to people getting hurt or even dying but it's not the locals. We get shut out of all the places we grew up at. Kauai has the wettest spot on earth go figure.

  • Vegas Yoda posted at 10:47 pm on Fri, Feb 22, 2013.

    Vegas Yoda Posts: 171

    See the article at Yahoo Voices," Beautiful, but Deadly: Kauai, Hawaii"

  • notdoug posted at 8:58 pm on Fri, Feb 22, 2013.

    notdoug Posts: 0

    Okay, I am not a local and I was on the trail when the woman first tried to cross the river. I have my own perceptions of the situation but I am interested in what locals think about the trail. To my mind it seemed like the perfect storm. A beautiful trail with access to unprecedented beauty that is not that arduous, technical or foreboding. It seems like an obvious set up. That said I think every person must take responsibility for their own actions. Thoughts? Reactions?

  • cowboy posted at 7:11 pm on Fri, Feb 22, 2013.

    cowboy Posts: 0

    Yes they should close the trail

  • Sale' posted at 6:35 pm on Fri, Feb 22, 2013.

    Sale' Posts: 0

    This is really sad to see this kind of tragedy happening on a regular basis along the Napali coast. My condolences goes out to the family members that lost their love ones through out the years and now again.

    Unfortunately, all of this could have been prevented. How? Well years ago in 1990-92, I worked for the DLNR (parks div.) doing trail work along the Napali coast trail and during that time i reopen an old hawaiian trail that runs along the left side of the Hanakapiai valley going up toward the falls, but when i left to California to do trail conservation work there, the state park div. never kept it open for some reason. If there's a flood, coming out on your right side of the valley, you would not have to cross the stream and you would end up above the tidal wave or flood safety zone pipes, above the last two trail legs just before the Hanakapiai stream.

    All being said; It's a no brainer, we all know who should be responsible for this kind of tragedy and what 'can' be done. NHC

  • cowboy posted at 6:15 pm on Fri, Feb 22, 2013.

    cowboy Posts: 0

    I think the DLNR should close the trail if they feel it could get dangerous. Also on the scanner 10 plus cars were damaged. The state police or the KPD officers should have stayed at the parking lot till morning hours. I knew that would happen and I'm only a Kauai Resident all my life but read a lot of news reports.....

  • Tila96766 posted at 2:48 pm on Fri, Feb 22, 2013.

    Tila96766 Posts: 7

    ...reminds me of a song..."Bridge Over Troubled Waters."

    In primitive tropical regions of the world when communities are "troubled" with streams having "troubled waters" they have the local Boy Scout Troop come in and build a bamboo foot-bridge for FREE...and they gat a patch for their Boy Scout uniform.

    Here the DLNR, State, County, Kauai Parks and Rec, Bernard and Lenny, Rotary Club, Kalalau Hippies, Fire Dept and Life guards, National Guard, Air One, the Gov, etc. ad nauseum, couldn't put Humpty back together again...so we better call the Boy Scouts of Kauai to the Rescue.

    Besides it will be a cool place to have your picture taken. Yes, kids, your father asked me to marry him on the "Bamboo Bridge at Hanakapiai." And we ain't talking no scrawny bridge, we talking moscle.

  • 2BKauai posted at 1:38 pm on Fri, Feb 22, 2013.

    2BKauai Posts: 1

    Hey leinaker

    I'm all for darwinism and I know accidents happen, but if you're going to call anyone, even a tourist who drowned, an idiot, at least do it in a coherent sentence.

    I did that hike the day before Thanksgiving, great hike.

    My condolences to the family.

  • Stormy posted at 11:04 am on Fri, Feb 22, 2013.

    Stormy Posts: 3

    Invincible tourists, AGAIN?!? Morons almost deserve to get in trouble, but it then puts alot of other people at risk to go save their butts. Will they learn a lesson, be grateful? Dont hold Ur breath but watch for all the thank you notes, letters! NOT!!!!

    C'mon who goes hiking without a rope, other gear? American tourists! the ones who give the rest of us a bad name,,,,,bet they were from Left (west) coast too, just saying.......

  • getreal posted at 8:14 am on Fri, Feb 22, 2013.

    getreal Posts: 58

    54 hikers at Hanakapiai on a rainy windy day? DLNR, things have gotten out of control...

  • manoaborn posted at 4:46 am on Fri, Feb 22, 2013.

    manoaborn Posts: 159

    Sorry she got swept away. This stuff has been going on forever. Too many people hike back there totally unprepared, in slippers and shorts. We got caught back there in 1973 for 3 days. It was miserable and wet and we were hungry, but we sure didn't try to cross that river till it went down far enough for the fire dept to toss a rope across for us to use as a hand-bridge.
    Use some common sense! It doesn't get THAT cold back there that you might die; stay put!

  • leinaker posted at 1:51 am on Fri, Feb 22, 2013.

    leinaker Posts: 0

    what if raining u cross river if smart u dont but tourist dont think serves them


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