At early dawn Saturday, firefighters hiked back in to retrieve a hiker found injured late Friday night, after an extensive search on the Commando Trail, in the Kailua area of East Maui.
At around 6 a.m., rescue crews airlifted a 43-year-old Kihei man from high up on the trail. He was transferred to paramedics standing by at a landing zone set up in pasture land near the Hana Highway trailhead.
The man was taken to Maui Memorial Medical Center in stable condition with non-life-threatening injuries.
Fire crews first got the call at 7:05 p.m. Friday night for two hikers, a 28-year-old male and a 43-year-old male, overdue from a hike into the trail. They were supposed to pick up the friend from work after the hike but failed to show up. When the friend found their car still at the trailhead, she called authorities.
It was later learned that the 43-year-old went on the hike alone and the 28-year-old male acquaintance was never with him.
At about 9:08 p.m. Friday, firefighters found the 43-year-old victim at the bottom of a 150-foot waterfall, in an area above the 5th pond, and not usually frequented by hikers. The victim was climbing down the waterfall to get to the bottom when he slipped and fell, hitting a rock outcropping on the way down. Rescuers noted that the man was lucky that hitting the outcropping likely caused him to bounce outwards and he landed in the pond below, narrowly missing the exposed rocks.
The victim estimated that he fell about 70 feet.
He managed to swim to the bank and crawled up onto the rocks. He was unable to walk on his own and couldn’t call for help because he didn’t have a cell phone.
Firefighters had to navigate a very dangerous ravine in order to reach the man. They treated him for non-life-threatening injuries and gave him dry clothes and water.
Because it was raining earlier and it was too muddy and dangerous to carry the man out at night, rescuers left the area and decided to wait till daylight to extract him with the helicopter. One firefighter remained with the victim throughout the night.
Firefighters from Paia, a rescue crew out of Kahului, and Air 1 responded to the incident.