Lost hiker, 76, rescued at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Courtesy: NPS Photos/J.Ferracane
Courtesy: NPS Photos/J.Ferracane

A 76-year-old man who got lost near Puu Huluhulu in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was rescued early Friday morning.

Zigui Yuan, of China, spent the night on an old lava field after getting lost near Puu Huluhulu cinder cone, where there is little or no cell phone reception.

His wife, Paulili Yuan, reported him missing at about 8 p.m. Thursday. She told rangers that the couple and a female friend had been hiking together Thursday morning when Yuan got separated at the Puu Huluhulu trailhead and headed east towards Napau Crater.

The two women returned to the trailhead junction at the Mauna Ulu parking lot about 11:30 a.m. and waited for Yuan.

At about 7 p.m., Yuan attempted to contact his wife by phone, but the call failed. The women then drove to Thurston Lava Tube and reported him missing to a park ranger.

A search in the vicinity of Puu Huluhulu was executed, but was suspended at 1 a.m. A ground and air search was launched at daybreak.

A helicopter crew spotted Yuan about 660 feet southwest of Puu Huluhulu and retrieved him. Yuan was cold, dehydrated, and exhausted, but had no major injuries.

He was reunited with his wife at about 6:30 a.m.

Yuan, who speaks very little English, told park rangers through his wife that he kept hiking across the sharp, jagged lava until it became dark and he could no longer see the rock pile trail markers. He took shelter against the wind in a small depression in the old lava flows, and waited for daylight.

Park rangers remind visitors that the best way to avoid potentially serious incidents is to plan ahead and prepare.

A full range of hiking tips and other safety-related information is available on the park’s website.

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