From stranded to safety

WAILUA — Sonny Boiser was driving down Kuamoo Road Sunday for an evening swim in a water hole along the hiking trail to Waialeale Crater on the Eastside. 

Instead, the 15-year-old Wailua Homesteads resident helped rescue more than 20 hikers from raging rapids.

“It was a rush,” Boiser said.

As one stranded hiker remembers it, “It was getting dark and we were scared because we thought we were going to get stuck out there and we didn’t really have a plan for that.”

But 16-year-old Micah Phillips-Lam and the nearly two dozen others stuck on the wrong side of an uncrossable stream made it home that night thanks to Boiser and the line of rope he just so happened to have in the truck bed.

“We got so lucky he was there,” Phillips-Lam said. “We would have been stranded.”

Phillips-Lam and some friends had enjoyed a beautiful day of hiking when, on the hike back, the drizzle that had been coming and going throughout day suddenly became heavy and steady. The water passing through the stream they had been hop scotching was picking up power.

By the time they reached the final crossing at the start of the hiking trail — their finish line — the water was racing, carrying big logs downsteam in its fury.

The end of the adventure was in sight, but teasingly out of reach.

“We couldn’t cross the river even if we tried to,” Phillips-Lam said. “When we got there, my friend Will, he tried to swim across and he almost got swept away, so we didn’t try again. It was raining and we were all cold, the whole group of us, and we just waited. We didn’t know what to do, honestly.”

That’s when Boiser came upon the scene. Hearing calls for help, he drove the truck to the edge of the stream, tied a rope to the front of the vehicle and threw the other end across the water, where one of the stranded hikers grabbed it and fastened it to a tree.

The hikers waited awhile for the stream to calm down. Then they crossed, one by one, fists tightly clenched around the rope Boiser happened to have on hand that day.

By 7 p.m., everyone had crossed safely.

“I was glad I got there and they didn’t have to spend the night there,” said Boiser, who has his learner’s permit and was driving with his older sister.

One hiker was so relieved she handed Boiser $20.

“After almost dying,” Phillips-Lam said, “it was the best feeling.”

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Brittany Lyte can be reached at 245-0441.

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