Friday, April 11, 2003

Lightning lit up the sky over Honolulu last night, as captured in this scene at the McCully Street overpass.

Father and
daughter swept
over waterfall

A flash flood pushed them over
a 190-foot cliff as they tried
to cross a Maui stream

By Gary T. Kubota and Mary Adamski |

Rescue teams resumed their search this morning for a tourist and his 8-year-old daughter who were swept off a 190-foot precipice in a flash flood last night at Haleakala National Park on Maui.

Kevin Brown, 39, a teacher from Louisville, Ky., and his daughter, Elizabeth, were crossing a stream about a half mile mauka of Hana Highway, when a wall of water carried them over the precipice at Makahiku Falls in Kipahulu, park authorities said.

Brown's wife, Holly, a physician, and his 11-year-old son, Clayton, witnessed the accident as they waited for the pair to cross the stream, authorities said.

The Browns were vacationing with Kevin's parents, who were waiting at a lower location for the four to return from a hike.

Park ranger John Woychowski said the wife and son said there was no rain or flooding in the stream area where they were crossing before the flash flood. "They said there was no problem, that there was no danger," he said.


The flash flood raised the water level to the highest he has ever seen and the water covered all the rocks in the stream, Woychowski said.

A flash flood warning was issued for the Hana area at about 4 p.m. yesterday.

Ron Martin, the operations supervisor for Haleakala National Park, said he hadn't heard about the flash flood warning until after the accident.

Martin said most of the visitors probably were unaware because they don't carry radios with them and radio reception is bad in Kipahulu.

He said the survivors managed to find a taro farm, and the farmer who didn't have a telephone took them down to the park visitor center, where they reported the accident.

Police Sgt. Ricky Uedoi said park rangers, police, firefighters and a fire helicopter crew launched a search after receiving the emergency call at about 5:05 p.m. yesterday.

Martin said searchers had difficulty looking for the missing visitors because the flood waters were more than 10 feet high in spots.

Martin said helicopters will be searching Makahiku gulch and nearby ocean today. He said park authorities also plan to ask county fire rescue divers to search in water below the 190-foot falls if condition allows for safe diving.

Also on Maui yesterday, four Ohio visitors were rescued by a fire rescue crew after they were stranded next to a swollen stream near Ulaino Road in Hana. No one was injured.

The heavy showers yesterday also brought a show of lightning and thunder. Oahu residents reported lightning and thunder from Central Oahu to Hawaii Kai and the Windward side. But police, fire and utility officials reported no serious storm incidents last night.

Electrical power flickered across most of Leeward Oahu at 5:56 p.m. and 5:59 p.m. yesterday, but no one lost power as a result, said Hawaiian Electric Co. spokeswoman Lynne Unemori. Witnesses reported lightning at about that time. HECO troubleshooters traced the source to Pearl City but did not find any indication that the brief blips were storm-related, Unemori said.

About 10 customers in Kalihi lost power last night because of an electrical pole fire on McNeil Street. The fire was caused by arcing that may have been caused by rain, Unemori said.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for Maui and a flood advisory for Oahu last night. The warning and advisory were lifted at 10 p.m. but weather officials said today's forecast also calls for possible heavy showers later in the day.

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