Maui News

Kahului Teen Rescued from Makamaka‘ole Gulch

October 19, 2017, 6:30 AM HST
* Updated October 18, 10:43 PM
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Maui firefighters responded to a swimming spot in the Makamaka‘ole Gulch in Kahakuloa for a male who was unable to climb back up a 30 foot rock face early Tuesday evening.

Fire crews respond to a water rescue at Makamakaʻole Gulch. File photo by Wendy Osher.

The incident was reported at 5:17 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 17. Firefighters from Wailuku were on scene at 5:36 p.m. and hiked down the trail a half-mile on the makai side of Kahekili Highway.

Rescue crews reached the top of the 30-foot waterfall and found a 16-year-old male from Kahului sitting on the rocks below the waterfall waiting for rescuers.

He was not injured.

Fire officials say after jumping into the pond the teen was unable to pull himself up with a rope and became exhausted in the process.


Fire Services Chief Edward Taomoto said at this particular swimming hole, climbing up the waterfall is the only way back to the top and is the only way to return to the highway.


The Kahului teen was swimming with three other friends of the same age, but all were able to climb up safely.

Firefighters were unable to airlift the teen out of the gulch before darkness due to the fact the fire department helicopter was involved in the search for the missing helicopter off Molokaʻi.

After returning from the Molokaʻi search, the Kahului rescue crew arrived at the scene to assist Wailuku firefighters with recovering the teen from the stream.


Firefighters rigged a system of ropes and pulleys to haul the teen up the 30-foot vertical face.

Rescue crews hiked up the trail with the boy and reached the highway at 9:20 p.m. The boy did not require medical attention.

Chief Taomoto says the teen made the smart decision to stop trying before he fell and injured himself.

The fire department reminds all hikers to know your limitations. If hikers ever find themselves lost or unable to make their way to safety because it is too dangerous – don’t risk your life – call for help and wait for trained rescuers to arrive.

A similar incident occurred in May 2017 when a 20-year-old Makawao man was unable to climb up the 30-foot waterfall. He was airlifted out.

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