Off-duty Honolulu firefighter dies after fall from Olomana trail

Published: Jan. 10, 2014 at 6:49 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 11, 2014 at 1:08 PM HST
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KAILUA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A man who authorities say is a Honolulu firefighter died after he fell while hiking on Mount Olomana.

Friends identified the man as 27-year-old Mitchell Kai. He was a 2004 graduate of Moanalua High School. Sources told HNN he worked at the Kalihi Fire Station.

The Honolulu Fire Department said Kai was hiking between the second and third peak using a rope when he lost his grip.

"When they climbed up the rope he slipped, the rope slipped through his hand because I guess it was raining at the time and then he fell over," said Honolulu Fire Capt. Kimo Todd.

Todd said that while the weather played a factor in the fall, by the time rescue crews got to the peak the rain had cleared and did not hamper their efforts.

Another hiking party, consisting of two males, was nearby and stayed with the victim and his female companion.  The three survivors and the victim were taken down from the mountain via HFD helicopter.

The hike on Olomana offers stunning view of Windward Oahu, but the view can come with a price, especially near where Kai fell. Jacque and Dayle Turner know this all too well. They are avid hikers and had done the Olomana hike several times.

In December of 2004, Jacque was descending from the third peak, and said she wasn't paying full attention to the hike because another person in her party had fallen.

"I was listening and I wasn't concentrating how I was grabbing, and so I didn't grab like I usually do," she said. The rock she was gripping broke, and "I just went back."

Turner fell about 150 feet, but survived with several cuts to her head, along with several bruises and abrasions. She was still able to climb back up and help the other hiker, Mel Yoshioka, who also survived.

While the Turners have resumed hiking, Jacque Turner said she has yet to return to Olomana, and never likes to hear of hikers losing their lives on the mountain.

"I feel really bad, really bad, you know? And grateful, very grateful I'm alive," she said. "I don't know why. I don't know why I'm alive."

The most recent death on Olomana happened in April 2011, when 44-year-old Ryan Suenaga, another experienced hiker, fell.

The Turners are members of the Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club, whose Web site offers tips on how to increase your safety while hiking.

To view more photos taken from the Olomana trail click HERE.

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