Paia, Maui firefighters were called Saturday afternoon to rescue a man that had been swept off the rocks by a large wave and was in the ocean in an area known as “Puka Maui” in Kailua, on the east side of the island.
Firefighters arrived at 3:35 p.m. and were informed by friends of the man that he had swum around the point and was on shore in the next bay over. They had been trying for several hours to get to him, but were unable to because of the steep terrain.
The fire department’s Air 1 helicopter was called in, and a Kahului rescue crew airlifted the man to a landing zone set up on Hana Highway.
The man had been hiking along with seven other friends on the Puka Maui trail off of the highway when he was knocked into the water by an unexpected wave as they were taking in the ocean scenery.
Paia fire Captain Ben Bland said there was a large easterly wind swell and ocean conditions were considered quite rough. The 18-year-old man, a Kahului resident, suffered only minor bumps and scraps, and declined to be seen by paramedics.
The Maui Fire Department reports that this incident comes a little over a month after a similar one and bears strikingly similar circumstances to an ocean accident that ended tragically for two Maui teenagers on February 16 at the area known as “Shoots and Ladders” in West Maui. In that case, a Kahului woman was swept into the ocean by a wave and her male friend jumped in to save her. Both drowned before help arrived.