Firefighters suspend search for person swept away in Pearl City floodwaters

Updated: Mar. 10, 2021 at 5:46 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu firefighters have suspended their search for a person who was swept away Tuesday in raging stream waters in Pearl City.

Authorities searched Waiawa Stream by air and on foot after bystanders said they saw a person being swept away and calling for help.

The search started about 4 p.m. Tuesday. It stopped overnight by resumed at first light.

Witnesses said the person got swept away so fast, they couldn’t tell if it was a man or a woman. And within seconds, that person was swept out of sight.

The stream is usually shallow ― so shallow people drive through it. But on Tuesday, amid torrential rains, it surged far beyond its banks.

Witness Cory Vidinha said he heard the victim calling for help.

“It wasn’t words. It was more of just a sound,” he said. ““Like a panic sound.”

Vidinha and his family had just finished work on their farm nearby when they spotted the person being swept downstream. He immediately called 911.

“We looked and basically just saw hands and arms flailing in the water and it was gone,” he said.

On Wednesday, HFD rescue crews combed the stream all way to Pearl Harbor. They also used a helicopter and drones to search by air.

The identity of the victim remains unknown.

Vidinha said there are several homeless camps in the area. He’s holding out hope that the person is found and remains troubled there wasn’t more he could do at the time.

“It just sucks standing there. You really, really want to help but know you can’t,” he said.

Also on Tuesday, firefighters rescued a 27-year-old man who was swept away in his truck in floodwaters. He was rescued just before 7:30 p.m. near the Waikele Self-Storage, about 100 yards from where he was swept away. The man was reportedly standing on the roof of the truck.

Officials urge everyone to stay away from low-lying areas and rivers. Flash flooding can happen in an instant, even if it is not raining. Never cross rushing waters in your vehicle.

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