KAILUA, Maui – On Saturday April 4, at 3:07 p.m., Paia firefighters were called 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 Maui.
Firefighters arrived at 3:35 and were informed by friends of the man; that he had swum around the point and was on shore in the next bay over. Friends had been trying for several hours to get to him, but were unable because of the steep terrain. That’s when they decided to call for help. 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 Hana highway, when the man 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 would like to advise the public to be ever watchful when venturing anywhere near the waters edge. Ocean conditions can change in an instant, and if you’re not paying attention, an unexpected wave can sweep you off your feet and toss you into the water. You could be seriously injured or even killed, should you hit your head while being washed off of the jagged rocks. Please be aware of your surroundings and take precautions, so that we may never have to meet in this way, and you can enjoy all the beauty nature has to offer.
Some important safety tips to remember are – Never turn your back to the ocean. If someone is swept into the ocean, throw them anything that can be used as a floatation device, such as an ice cooler or its lid. Swim out, farther away from the crashing waves on the shoreline and wait for help or for emergency responders to arrive.
This latest 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 President’s day weekend, February 16 of this year, at the area known as ‘shoots and ladders’, in West Maui. In that incident, 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. The Kahului man in yesterday’s incident was very fortunate to have walked away with his life.