In a dangerous stunt, kayakers take 80-foot plunge over Hilo’s Waianuenue

Updated: Mar. 23, 2021 at 6:39 PM HST
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HILO, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A stunt by thrill-seeking kayakers on Hawaii Island made for some epic video — but also highlighted safety concerns of the powerful Wailuku River.

Professional kayakers Dane Jackson and Hayden Voorhees paddled down the river and took the 80-foot plunge over Waianuenue, also known as Rainbow Falls, on Sunday.

It was all caught on drone video as they went over the edge in the fast-flowing falls and into the pond below in individual kayaks.

But officials from both the DLNR and State Film Commission said a permit to film the stunt was never obtained, and likely wouldn’t have been granted.

Jackson and Voorhees admitted they never got a permit to film the stunt, but felt they didn’t need one. The local company who got the footage also said they weren’t paid to film it.

The Hawaii County Mayor’s Office says stunts like this are highly dangerous, and when things go wrong, it puts others at risk too.

“Although what happens on Wailuku River is not in the jurisdiction of the County of Hawaii, the health and safety of those in and around the area is. That is why we would like to remind visitors and kamaʻaina alike that when you put yourself in danger, you are also putting the lives of our first responders in danger,” a spokesperson said.

“Being mindful of each other is the island way, and we would like to encourage folks to act with that in mind,” the spokesperson added.

Jackson and Voorhees tout their experience in extreme stunts, having spent years doing similar acts around the world. They are the first people to make the 80-foot drop over the right channel of the Hilo waterfall.

“I’ve come here a lot when there isn’t any water in the river and have gotten to swim below the drop,” Jackson said. “We always make sure before we run it with a lot of water that we check it without water to check the depth.”

The state film commissioner told Hawaii News Now that without permission from DLNR, they could face violations and fines by the state land board, but it’s unclear if officials will pursue the case.

The pair also said they spent the day on the river scouting areas for potential future stunts if water levels get high enough again.

In previous incidents, extreme athletes have pulled off risky stunts around Hawaii before. In 2019, athletes from Europe were scrutinized after skiing and snowboarding down a snowless Mauna Kea, an act considered seen as highly disrespectful by Native Hawaiians.

Read a previous report: Viral video of athletes skiing, snowboarding Mauna Kea sparks outrage

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