Pat Auen, of Iowa, was carried out of the Hauula Loop Trail after suffering a fall earlier Friday afternoon. Auen was discovered by two hikers who saw skid marks down an embankment.

Hiker OK after tumble
off Hauula trail

By Diana Leone

A 55-year-old woman survived a 120 foot fall down a steep slope off a Windward Oahu hiking trail Friday with only scratches and a twisted knee.

"It's a miracle," said Pat Auen of Dennison, Iowa, who said the sun was shining at 1 p.m. when she set off for a solo hike along the Hauula Loop Trail, not far from her nephew Eric Seimer's home in Hauula.

Auen said she was walking on a ridge when she placed her walking stick on what looked to her like dry leaves. "But it was really wet underneath. I lost my walking stick and I started rolling."

Toward the end of her fall, a vine twisted around her neck but she was able to get it loose before finally coming to rest on other vines, she said. Though her head ached and she wanted to sleep, she repeatedly called out for help. By this time it was raining and getting darker. After a few hours, "I thought this is really it," she said.

Finally hikers on the trail called out to her and were able to call the Honolulu Fire Department on a cell phone.

The Fire Department got the call at 4:19 p.m. and was able to get firefighters to the place where Auen had fallen by 5:29 p.m., said spokesman Capt. Richard Soo.

It was harder getting to her. Because of heavy rain and low visibility, fire fighters couldn't use the rescue helicopter, which could have lifted her out in an hour, Soo said.

Instead, rescuers had to rappel down the slope, secure Auen to a basket, pull her up to the trail, then carry her out on a stretcher, Soo said. They made it out by 8:45 p.m. and took her to Kahuku Hospital for treatment for possible neck injuries, he said.

Auen credits her ability to roll with her arms and legs tucked in with not receiving more serious injuries, she said in a telephone interview yesterday. But, she couldn't have gotten out without help, she said.

"I have the greatest respect for the firefighters ... It was raining and it was very dangerous. The paths are very narrow, I was afraid they would fall down," she said. "We laughed and talked. They did their job very well.

"I can't thank those people enough."

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