Some are calling it a Fourth of July miracle.
Justin Clark, who had been missing since Tuesday morning since he went hiking on the Schofield-Waikane trail, was found alive Saturday afternoon.
Clark was located about 4 p.m. in Wahiawa. He was transported from Iliahi Elementary School in stable condition to Queen’s Medical Center.
His mother, Shirley Seeger, was there when he was found. “He looks a little beat up, but he’s okay. He’s alert, oriented, walking. He’s a little dehydrated and skinnier.
“He was very happy his dad flew in from Washington, D.C., and he just happened to arrive the same time they found him, so Justin was shocked to see his father,” she said.
“He had been out here long enough that it was within range of him being found in good health was less and less likely,” said Adam Gaines, president of Maui Search and Rescue. “It is borderline miraculous that he was found alive and in reasonably good condition.
“They were right on the border of having to call off their search,” he said. “Their protocol only allows them three days. They pushed it a full extra day, and they were right at that point where they were doing to call the search off when they got the call that he had been found, so he was very, very lucky to have been found by the Honolulu Fire Department.”
Gaines says Clark’s mother called his independent group Saturday morning. He, the other volunteers and two canine units were on a plane to Honolulu when firefighters found Clark.
Maui Search and Rescue was originally founded in February 2014 to help in the search for Charli Scott, a woman who went missing on Maui. Many of the group’s volunteers are friends of hers. They saw a need that, when government agencies cannot continue their search, they can help.
The group and Clark’s mother heaped praise and thanks for the Honolulu Fire Department. “Those guys, they are the heroes,” Gaines said. “Our job is to assist heroes, not to be heroes.
“It is just an amazing beautiful day for him,” he said, “to be able to have been found at literally the last hour.”
Officials said the 32-year-old Clark began hiking at 5 a.m. Tuesday at the Schofield-Waikane trailhead, approximately three miles past California Avenue.
His mother told KHON2 she texted him later in the day when he missed his doctor’s appointment, and he explained that he took a wrong turn and fell.
He sent a second and final text at 4:08 p.m. reporting that he had gotten out of the area and was making his way along the ridge.
With no further contact overnight or Wednesday morning, she reported Clark missing. She said he was familiar with the trail and frequently hikes the area.
HPD was notified Wednesday and obtained multiple GPS plot points from Clark’s cell phone service provider to formulate a search area.
Fire officials say it’s common for a hiker to become disoriented once leaving the trail.
“There are parts of it that the terrain is rugged. As you get off the trail, it’s hard to get back on the trail,” said battalion chief Alan Carvalho with the Honolulu Fire Department. “There’s places that are very difficult to find or, if you get down into a ravine, it’s hard to climb back up and get on it again.”
In order to access the trail, hikers must submit a request to the U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Real Property Office (read more about the process here).
Army officials say Clark did not request permission to be on the trail.