New Mexico hiker identified, one still missing in Hana

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WAIKAMOI, Hawaii (KHON2) – The Maui Fire Department continued their search over the weekend for two missing hikers last seen near Waikamoi stream in East Maui.

Friends and family said four men went hiking in East Maui on Saturday afternoon.

[Hawaii’s Weather Station – Latest in Hawaii weather]

A flash flood warning was in effect in the area in the morning, and was under a flash flood watch at the time of the incident.

Maui police said their investigation revealed two men went to look at a waterfall around 1:45 p.m., and when they didn’t return around 4:30 p.m., the other two men in the party called 911. 

The Maui Fire Department and Air-1 responded to assist in the search efforts. 

At approximately 9:30 p.m., on Saturday, search efforts were suspended until the next morning.

On Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021, at approximately 10:15 a.m., fire personnel located one of the hikers deceased in the ocean, about 50 yards from shore, and about a half mile west of the waterfall that flows into the ocean. 

The male was identified as Angelo Ruiz, 27, of New Mexico.

Rescue efforts continued for the second hiker and were suspended at dusk. 

On Monday, March 1, 2021, the search resumed and is currently ongoing. The family of the second man are in Hana and remaining positive.

On Feb. 18, a California woman was killed when she was swept out to sea in a flash flood in Waioka.

Chris Berquist, Search Tech Advisory Team, has assisted in several missing hiker cases over the years and said more needs to be done to make people aware of the hazardous conditions.

“That’s the conversation that we’re all having here in the parking lot is I hope there’s a sensitive way we can use this to raise awareness because this is the third one in two weeks, and it’s a huge problem,” he said.

Matt Andrew lives about one mile from Na’ili’ili Haele Stream, also refered to as ‘Bamboo Forest.’

He said he warns visitors daily of the dangers during flash flood conditions and sometimes is sometimes met with disdain.

“It’s super frustrating, because you’re just trying to help people and sometimes they don’t seem to care,” he said.

“I also have to remember that the people who don’t live here don’t have the same perspective that we do,” Andrew said. “Like, they don’t have flash floods maybe where they live, or they don’t even know what they are. So to some of them it’s a little bit of rain and they’ll get dirty. so they’ll go have fun, but there’s a lot more to it than that. That people who don’t live here fail to take into account, and that’s unfortunate.”

“We cannot legislate common sense,” said state Senator J Kalani English (D) Hana, East Maui, Lanai.
“When you look at the old Hawaiians, you know, I always said, look at the mountain, if it’s raining, don’t go in, observe everything around you, look at the weather, look at the wind, look at the rain. So, you know, common sense.”

“I mean, I’m so sorry for the loss of life, and I’m so sorry for these people losing their life because they didn’t exercise common sense,” Sen. English continued. “It was flash floods, it was storming in Saturday, really bad, and yet they chose to go hiking down a river.”

He said people continue to ignore warnings.

“I’m at a loss for words, because in two days, three days we have possibly two people dead, and it’s unfortunate because they didn’t listen to the warnings, they didn’t exercise common sense? What a tragic loss.”

Senator English said visitors need to listen to the warnings, follow common sense and be aware of their surroundings. “So you can enjoy Hawaii and return home safely,” he said.

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