Rock fall kills 8-year old Maui girl

Published: Jun. 1, 2011 at 2:22 AM HST|Updated: Jun. 1, 2011 at 2:56 AM HST
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By Brooks Baehr - bio | email

KIPAHULU, MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) – An eight year old girl from Lahaina was killed when struck by falling rocks while hiking with family to Waimoku Falls in Oheo Gulch on the back side of Haleakala National Park Tuesday afternoon.

"She was transported to the (Hana) health center by ambulance. She had died at the scene. And basically we've been trying to care for the family as best we can this afternoon," Cheryl Vasconcellos, Executive Director of the Hana Health Center told Hawaii News Now.

Waimoku falls is at the end of a 1.8 mile trail up Oheo Gulch. It is part of the same stream that flows through Kipahulu, a popular attraction also known as the Seven Sacred Pools. Waimoku Falls, said to be the tallest waterfall on Maui, is about 400 feet high.

The trail to Waimoku Falls takes hikers through changing terrain and vegetation. As the trail nears the falls large rocks cover the ground. The walls of the gulch are steep. The rocks that cover the ground fell from above. Many have been washed downstream. Rock falls and landslides happen frequently as the Hawaiian islands age and erode.

Most falls go unnoticed. Not this time.

"This is just really traumatic for everybody here. Our thoughts and condolences go out to the family and our staff is really suffering through this with them. I can tell you it is a terrible tragedy that you really don't ever want to have to experience," Vasconcellos said.

Other people enjoying Mother Nature's splendor in this part of Haleakala National Park have met a tragic end. At least four people in the past decade have drowned while swimming or crossing that same stream in Oheo Gulch. All of those incidents happened closer to the ocean at Kipahulu.

"It's a very beautiful national park. It also can be very deadly. I know there's a lot of signage posted and people really need to take heed and take those warnings very very seriously," Vasconcellos said.

By nightfall the National Park Service had closed the trail to Waimoku Falls. No one else was injured in Tuesday's incident.

Copyright 2011 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.