Search on for Wai’ale’ale hiker

A search was scheduled to resume this morning for a hiker seen waving his arms while on the summit of Mt. Wai’ale’ale around mid-day yesterday.

The first report of the hiker came in to an air traffic controller at the Lihu’e Airport around 11 a.m. Friday, states a press release issued by the Kaua’i Fire Department.

Alerted to the hiker by a tour helicopter company, the controller immediately contacted police dispatch,who then contacted the KFD.

Over an hour later another tour helicopter company reported seeing the hiker on the north facing side of Mt. Wai’ale’ale.

Rescue specialists from the Lihu’e fire station boarded the Air-1 chopper around 2 p.m. and approached the area they believed the hiker may have been. As they neared the summit, inclement weather closed in forcing the chopper to land at the base of the mountain.

“Our H3 helicopter was launched in support of a search and rescue on Mt. Wai’ale’ale around 4:25 p.m.” said Pacific Missile Range Facility spokesman Tom Clements. “From what I understand the request was to assist for possibly one or more hikers at approximately 1,500 feet up on the north face ridge of Mt. Wai’ale’ale.”

Clements said the H3 Navy chopper was called in because Air-1 lacks hoist capability. If the hiker was located the H3 would be able to pluck the person from the face of the mountain as opposed to landing as would be required for Air-1.

Both aircraft battled windy and cloudy conditions and were unable to approach the scene of the sightings. Due to weather and impending darkness the search was called off at 5:30 p.m.

According to the KFD press release large maps of the area were being studied overnight Friday to prepare for the search that began again this morning.

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