Fire/rescue crews answered a 4:18 p.m. alarm Saturday (Nov 3) to Anna’s Pond and the stream in the hills above Anna’s Ranch in Waimea for a flash flood search and rescue operation.
Swimmers were at the pond when a flash flood swept them away into the stream. Upon arrival, rescue crews found and talked to three of the people on the west side of the stream who informed them there was a total of 13 swimmers/hikers who were washed away. Chopper One located three more walking through a pasture north of the pond area, and a short time later four more were found stranded on rocks alongside the stream. The people were airlifted to waiting medic units.
Later the three final swimmers/hikers were located on rocks behind a large waterfall. Rescue crews used ropes to rappel down a 150-200 foot cliff after dark in windy, and rainy conditions. It took five hours for the operation to get the final three victims up from the cliffs via ropes.
There were no serious injuries and two were reported to have required some medical treatment. The area is a private hillside pasture with steep cliffs and a dangerous stream in rainy conditions.
The last of the fire department crews involved in the rescue operation were back at their station at 12:33 a.m. Sunday (Nov 4).
The road to the summit of Mauna Kea is closed due to “High Humidity, Below Freezing temperatures, Ice and Snow on the roadways”, rangers say, as a Winter Weather Advisory is in effect for Hawaiʻi Island summits.