Sunday, January 27, 2002

3 die on Maui
as rains flood
streams statewide

3 other boys have
a close call on Oahu

By Diana Leone

Heavy rains took their toll last night, as three people died on Maui after their vehicle was swept down a flooded Waiehu stream two hours before the National Weather Service issued a flood watch for the entire state.


There were three or four survivors in the Maui incident who had been in the same van or sport utility vehicle driving along a dirt road through macadamia trees, said Maui Police Sgt. Anthony Poplardo.

On Oahu, two of three boys who fell into a Makiki stream while trying to retrieve a slipper were swept more than a half-mile in flood waters, part of the time in underground tunnels.

The Maui incident was reported to Maui police at 5 p.m., Poplardo said. He said some of the victims may have been visitors to the island.

The weather service called for the flood watch at 7 p.m. yesterday and expected to lift the watch at 7 a.m. this morning, a spokesman said.

The boys' saga on Oahu began somewhere mauka of Makiki and Nehoa streets, where the first witness reported seeing all three go by in the stream, said Honolulu Fire Department spokesman Capt. Kenison Tejada.

One boy, age 11, was able to escape at Wilder Street. But his 12-year-old brother and another 11-year-old were swept all the way to King Street and Kalakaua Avenue before they were able to grab onto a pipe and crawl out of a cement-lined drainage ditch.

They were helped out of the ditch by 35-year-old David Wishner, who was pedaling by on his bicycle with fiancee Elizabeth Hallock, 32, on their way home from a trip to the Waikiki Aquarium.

"It was just one of those things," Wishner said. "I heard voices, and they sounded like they were coming out of the canal, so I go off my bike and went over."

After the boys were helped out of the ditch, firemen took them to the Pawaa fire station and wrapped them in blankets until their parents arrived, with the brother who had gotten out upstream, to take them home.

Acting Pawaa Station Capt. Alex Silva said the boys were cold and banged up but did not seem to have serious injuries.

Barbara Iredale said she was watching the flood waters outside her Makiki kitchen when she saw two boys whiz by in the water, one after another, and called 911. That was about 6 p.m.

"We're just happy they're OK," she said.

On Maui those drowned had not been identified by 10 p.m., Poplardo said.

At about 9 p.m. fire rescue crews called off a search for two hikers who might have been stranded in upper Palolo Valley, Tejada said.

A group of hikers told firemen at the Palolo station that they had seen a man and a woman hiking just before they forded a swollen stream and came out of a trail in heavy rains late in the afternoon, Tejada reported.

The search was to resume at first light this morning, he said, though "we're hoping they made it out and are safe at home. It's pretty nasty up there."

Meanwhile, the debut of the city's movie-at-the-beach event at Kailua Beach was postponed by the bad weather. A spokeswoman at the Kailua Police Station was not sure if the movie set for tonight would go on as planned.

The weather service reported that rains yesterday afternoon and early evening were heaviest in Central Kauai, the Koolaus on Oahu, the Hana region of Maui and the North Kohala area of Hawaii island.

A tree partially blocked Kaneohe-bound lanes of the Likelike Highway but was removed by road crews.

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