Hiker dies after falling several hundred feet off Punaluu’s Castle Trail

Local News

Family and friends are mourning the loss of a man who died after falling hundreds of feet off a trail in Windward Oahu.

The Cheesecake Factory identified the hiker as Marshall Freedman, a manager at the Waikiki restaurant.

Joseph Phillips, regional vice president of operations, said in a statement: “We are deeply saddened by the loss of our friend and manager, and above all else, our thoughts and prayers are with his family. He was a valued member of our team and will be sorely missed. Our focus also continues to be on supporting all of our staff members during this difficult time.”

The Honolulu Fire Department responded to a distress call just before 7 p.m. Thursday from six hikers on Castle Trail in Punaluu Valley.

When rescuers got there, they learned a seventh hiker, Freedman, had gotten separated from the group.

“We were able to secure their location, ensure their safety, and continue on with our rescue,” said Capt. David Jenkins, Honolulu Fire Department. “We were able to locate the missing hiker at the bottom of a fall of approximately 300 feet, several hundred feet. He did succumb to his injuries from that.”

Firefighters could not retrieve him due to weather and lack of light. Operations were suspended shortly before 11 p.m. and rescuers spent the night with hikers on the trail.

“There were some supplies brought up, blankets, water, some minimum equipment, but enough where they could safely be secured and shelter in place throughout the night. It wouldn’t be exactly comfortable but safe,” said Jenkins.

The rescue resumed at first light Friday. Crews airlifted Freedman’s body down to the landing zone.

At around the same time, firefighters rescued a man and woman from Haiku Stairs. A few hours later, four more hikers called for help from the Koko Crater Arch Trail.

HFD advises the public to research a hike before hitting the trail, bring plenty of water, make sure you can complete the hike during daylight hours, and always take a cell phone.

Remember to HIKE SAFE:
  • Hike with a partner or a group and have a plan. Each member of the group should carry a cell phone, water and flashlight in case the party becomes separated. The group should establish where to meet if the members become separated.
  • Inform someone of where you’re going and when you plan to return.
  • Keep a cell phone, flashlight and whistle with you on every hike, even short day hikes.
  • Eat well, stay hydrated: carry plenty of water. Recommended: 2 liters of water per person, per day.
  • Stay on the trail. Abide by all posted signs and do not hike in closed or dangerous areas.
  • Ask for help early; do not delay. A minor/moderate health or medical issues can be easily exacerbated by hiking up steep trails—know your limits and pay attention to how you’re feeling.
  • Familiarize yourself with the area, use a map and consult government sponsored websites.
  • Expect changes in the weather and terrain; bring appropriate footwear and clothing.

Click here to access Na Ala Hele, a website of all sanctioned state forest trails with safety information and hazard warnings.

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