Big Island woman remains in ICU after snow incident on Mauna Kea

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Pua Wong of Hakalau suffered critical injuries Friday evening when she crashed into rocks while sliding down the snow on a body board on Mauna Kea’s summit.

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According to the Hawaii County Fire Department, the incident took place around 6:30 p.m.

A winter storm left Mauna Kea covered in a blanket of snow last week.

“Every time it snows, I think we all get a little crazy here on the island, and we all want to experience it and play with it,” explained Wong’s boyfriend Kawika Roman.

Wong went to the summit with her friends and family Friday evening to play in the snow and watch the sunset. Roman couldn’t go because he had to work.

“Towards the end of the evening they were sliding down a snowy hill on a boogie board and she lost control and suffered a lot of damage,” he shared.

Roman said the left side of Wong’s body took the brunt of the crash and she hit her head as well.

HFD says Mauna Kea Rangers brought Wong to Hale Pohaku where a Pohukuloa Training Area Medic was staged. The 23 year old was then transported down Mauna Kea Access Road where an ambulance transported her to Hilo Medical Center.

Roman got the call shortly after the accident.

“I got to the hospital and waited. It takes some time getting down from the summit, and as soon as the ambulance came in, I was at Pua’s side while everyone worked on her,” he said.

Her injuries were critical and she was medically evacuated to Queen’s Medical Center on Oahu that same night.

Roman says she suffered multiple broken bones, including her tibia and forearm, but her head injury was the most concerning.

“Her surgery went well. They fixed her leg she had a broken, tibia and they put a rod into that and her forearm, they put in plates and screws,” he said.

“As far as her head, she had a big laceration across her head which they had to stitch up,” he added. “Swelling to the brain as well as some bleeding (occurred) so they’re monitoring that closely. She’s sedated right now to help with the pain.”

She’s in stable condition, but she’s not out of the woods yet. You know, just taking it day by day,” Roman explained.

Roman says doctors have put her in a medically induced coma and are unable to give a time frame as to when she’ll wake up.

“They said it varies and head injuries, especially severe head injuries can be complicated to give you a timeframe, he said. “It’s tough but we got to take it day by day.”

Wong has been studying for the MCATS with dreams of becoming a doctor.

Roman says when Wong isn’t studying, she volunteers with Hope Services Organization and helps homeless treat their wounds.  

“She just radiates Aloha and everyone loves Pua. She is just an amazing person that puts others before her and she’s smart,” he said.

“We just need Pua to get better. We just need her to get up like how she always does. She’s a hammer and she’s one of the strongest people I know, most resilient people I know,” Roman said.

The family has received love and support from across the state with a GoFundMe to help with the extensive medical costs for her multiple surgeries.

“We want to thank everyone for reaching out and showing their love and support and helping in any way they can for the Wong ohana, just thank you so much,” Roman said. “We just look forward to Pua getting better.”

The GoFundMe can be found here.

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