Two hikers and a couple were rescued late Monday afternoon when family members reported them overdue earlier that morning.
According to Captain Ken D’Attilio, pilot for Inter-Island Helicopters, after the girlfriend of one of the hikers — reportedly Kaua‘i residents in their 20s — became concerned, she was told to call Inter-Island Helicopters, which regularly performs rescue operations on the north side of the island.
Sometime between 2:30 p.m. and 3 p.m., Inter-Island received the call and headed to the Na Pali coastline to look for the hikers — or for an S.O.S. sign in the sand, something D’Attilio regularly checks for every time he flies over the area.
From the rain-swept, turbulent skies, the pilot — flying along with his son, Joel — spotted the S.O.S. sign drawn in the sand, along with three hikers and a dog at the beach at the end of the trail at Kalalau.
The additional two rescue subjects were described as a Czech couple in their early 30s. The woman had injured her ankle “so badly she could barely walk,” D’Attilio said in a phone interview.
D’Attilio’s son Joel was dropped off to search for the unaccounted-for hiker, who had left the immediate area, while his father flew the couple, the hiker and the dog — a Dalmatian D’Attilio called “a great rider” — back to safety.
“It was pretty turbulent up there,” said D’Attilio. “There were some 40 mph gusts.”
A sudden unexpected wind forced the pilot to abort one landing attempt and take his MD-530-FF in for a second pass.
After dropping off the three hikers, their equipment and the dog, D’Attilio returned to pick up the remaining man and his son.
D’Attilio said that the hikers likely weren’t lost, but rather stranded as a result of fast-rising water in streams and rivers in the area.
The DLNR has suspended permits for Napali State park access due to stormy weather.
• Luke Shanahan, business writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 251) or email@example.com