Crews respond to rescue calls near Haiku Stairs - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Crews respond to rescue calls near Haiku Stairs

Crews close the gate to Stairway to Heaven Crews close the gate to Stairway to Heaven
Stairway to Heaven Stairway to Heaven
John Flanigan John Flanigan

By Lisa Kubota - bio | email

KANEOHE (HawaiiNewsNow) - Rescue crews responded to emergency calls for two incidents near the Haiku Stairs during a span of four days. The first case on Saturday turned out to be a false alarm. In the second incident on Tuesday, police cited a 30-year-old man for trespassing on private property separate from the trail.

On his way to work, Leroy Davis spotted three people who walked past a warning sign onto private property.

"I told them, 'You guys know that you're trespassing?' and they look at the sign, they said, 'Yeah, we know, but we have a friend up there who fell down on his head and we think he broke his back,'" said Davis, an employee at Ke Kula 'o Samuel Manaiakalani Kamakau Charter School in Kaneohe.

Davis said the people called 911, and fire rescue crews spent hours looking for an injured person near the Haiku Stairs, also called the Stairway to Heaven. In the end, an officer cited a 30-year-old man for trespassing. According to authorities, he was in an Omega Station that was used by the military. Hikers cut through the property to get to the stairs.

"What they should do is cite the people for it and make them pay for the mistakes they're doing. Why the taxpayers gotta pay for it?" said Davis.

On Saturday, the Honolulu Fire Department searched for some overdue hikers in the same area. Family members told authorities the group planned to cross the Koolaus and come down the stairs, but it was a false alarm. The hikers were all safe and no longer on any trail.

"We take care of everyone who gets in trouble, but we want them to avoid getting in trouble, and the best way to do it is only go on sanctioned trails," said Capt. Terry Seelig of the Honolulu Fire Department.

The trail has been closed since it was deemed dangerous in 1987. The 3,922 stairs were repaired, but neighbors complained about parking and littering. The trail was never re-opened. The city spends $51,000 a year for a security guard posted at the bottom of the stairs.

"They got liability now. They got a hundred people a week sneaking in, so under management it would be a whole lot safer," said John Flanigan of The Friends of Haiku Stairs.

A spokesman for the city said there is no immediate plan to open the trail to the public. The Friends of Haiku Stairs met with the city a few months ago with ideas about how to safely re-open the area.

"If you can find a good access that doesn't go through a neighborhood, a place for people to park that unfairly bother anybody, you can't convince me that that can't be done," said Flanigan.

Copyright 2011 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

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