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Tuesday, July 4, 2000

Rescuer jumps
from chopper to
save divers

After spotting the two, he
instinctively goes in with
no fins and long pants

By Rod Ohira


Rescue specialist Jeff Barbieto flew in the Honolulu Fire Department's helicopter last night looking for lost hikers and ended up in the water assisting distressed divers.

"He had to make a judgment call and went in with no fins and long pants," Fire Department spokesman Richard Soo said of Barbieto, who jumped into the ocean from the helicopter after spotting the two missing divers between Black Point and Kahala Beach about 100 yards offshore.

"He saw one of the divers holding up the other, who was on the verge of distress. Jeff just decided to jump. That's a typical rescue call."

Barbieto assisted in getting the divers into a basket that was lowered from the helicopter.

Ladder companies from Kaimuki and Waikiki had responded to the scene at 11:56 p.m. to look for the divers.

The two divers, ages 19 and 22, were not seriously injured. They were brought to shore at 12:59 a.m.

Barbieto initially had gone up to search for three people who failed to return from an early-evening hike on the Aiea Loop Trail.

The two women, ages 31 and 19, and a male companion in his 20s had gone dressed in shorts and T-shirts. While on the trail, they decided to see the waterfall and went down to the riverbed and were unable to find their way back, Soo said.

The three were reported missing at 9:28 p.m. Officer Joe Self of the police Missing Persons Detail requested the Fire Department's assistance.

The helicopter, which usually does not fly at night, was sent up so its lights could be used for spotting the hikers, Soo said.

Firefighters from the Aiea station hiked in and located the hikers through voice contact while searching the riverbed area, Soo said.

"None of them were injured but they were cold and hungry," he added.

Due to power lines in the area, the helicopter could not be used to transport the hikers out, said Soo.

The hikers were escorted out at 1:59 a.m.

The hikers had already been located when the Barbieto and the helicopter were dispatched to Kahala to assist in the search for the missing divers.

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