A Kauai tour company is making changes to its policies following the death of one of its guests over the weekend.
From now on, Kayak Wailua said all future tours will be canceled if a flash flood watch is in effect.
On Saturday, Aimee Abrahim, 32, from California, died on Wailua River after she was swept away by flash flood waters while on a group tour.
Another woman who was on the same tour said more should be done to keep visitors safe.
Mary Johnson said her tour with Kayak Wailua was cut short when the guide got a flash flood warning on his phone. The group made it back to Wailua River when things took a drastic turn.
“We were on the rope and we heard the water in the distance just intensify and just get — it made a whooshing noise. As that happened, he said, ‘Quick, quick, get across,'” Johnson said. “It just rose incredibly fast, it went from knee to mid-thigh to waist to chest just in a matter of like five seconds.”
Johnson and a few others turned back and made it to safety, but she watched as two women were swept away.
Johnson said the guide did everything he could to help his group, but she feels more safety measures are needed, like requiring life jackets.
“I get it. It kind of sucks to wear life jackets and helmets when you’re walking on dry ground or whatever, but it’s so worth it to have those,” she said. “I was just trusting in the company to make that decision, to make that call.”
Kauai firefighters rescued the rest of the tour group, including the other woman who was swept away.
We reached out to the Hawaii Fire Fighters Association to ask about these weather-related rescues. We’re told they’re not uncommon.
“There has to be a greater attempt by everyone to educate themselves about the dangers of Mother Nature in this state,” Lee said. “There’s a reason why you have these weather reports like flash flood watch or warning.”
We called Kayak Wailua owner Pete Fisher again. He told KHON2 his company will no longer offer tours if a flash flood watch is in effect. He also says he plans to voluntarily submit a list of added safety measures to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.
We’re told the tour guide had been with the company for three months.
DLNR says its investigation into the incident is ongoing.