LIHUE, KAUAI (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Kauai Fire Department Monday this morning completed their rescue of a total of 121 stranded hikers from Hanakapiai along the Kalalau Trail, after fast-flowing waters made the Hanakapiai stream impassable since yesterday afternoon.
Rescue 3 aboard Air 1 flew 98 people out of the valley Monday morning, in addition to 23 people who were flown out Sunday evening.
No injuries were reported.
The mission began at around 4 p.m. Sunday, when firefighters were notified of several hikers stranded on the far side of the swollen stream. Rescue 3 aboard Air 1 responded and flew as many people out as they could before nightfall forced them to halt the operation until daylight this morning.
Officials report that those rescued yesterday were located in the most dangerous area along the river's edge, near rising waters. Several children were among those rescued Sunday, including an 18-month-old baby, and a 12-year-old boy got caught in the water and swept downstream. The boy was able to get up onto rocks on the opposite side of the stream, and was reportedly stranded there for over four hours until rescuers short-hauled him out of the area.
All other stranded hikers were located in a safer area at Hanakāpī'ai Beach. They were instructed to stay in place together overnight until Air 1 could return Monday morning. Two fire rescuers also stayed in the valley with the victims overnight.
Air 1 continued to transport stranded hikers, four people at a time, from roughly 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. this morning.
"When possible, firefighters will hike in to the valley to assist stranded hikers in crossing the river safely, so that they can hike out if they are able," stated Deputy Fire Chief John Blalock. "But in this case, hazardous conditions made it impossible to get anyone across. To avoid serious injury or death, we urged everyone to shelter in place until they could be flown back to the trail head. We are very pleased to report that everyone made it back safely."
In light of the dangerous conditions, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources has closed the Kalalau Trail at the KÄ"'Ä" Beach trailhead until further notice. For updates on the trail closure, visit the Hawai'i State Parks website at http://www.hawaiistateparks.org/parks/kauai/