KALAHEO — A schizophrenic Kalaheo woman, while lost for a week in a ravine near her home, stayed alive by drinking rainwater and eating nothing but leaves and some kind of wild vegetable.
Emi Oka, 40, was found stranded in a ravine behind Kakela Makai Drive in Kalaheo on Thursday morning, one week after she wandered away from her family’s home in the middle of the night while suffering a hallucinatory episode.
According to Ivanka Oka, her daughter must have left the home late at night on Jan. 31 for a walk, but became disoriented in the rain and couldn’t find her back.
“She was less than a mile-and-a-half from home — she just kept walking in circles,” Oka said.
Kauai Police Department Assistant Chief Bryson Ponce said two women who live nearby heard Oka’s cries for help coming from a thickly vegetated area behind their row of houses on Kakela Makai Drive. According to Ponce, the two “good Samaritans” followed the sound down the hill and found Oka behind a wire fence.
After bringing her water and food, the two neighbors helped the stranded woman navigate her way around the fence and climb up to the road, something Ivanka Oka said her daughter had been unable to do on her own due to poor eyesight and limited mobility.
“She kept trying to get back home, but she was having trouble moving,” Oka said Thursday while waiting for her daughter to finish a consultation with her mental health physician in Lihue.
Ivanka Oka said her daughter had “scratches all over her body” and had trouble standing, with open wounds on her feet that had become infected — Emi Oka wasn’t wearing shoes when she went missing a week ago and was found barefoot Thursday morning.
Ponce said Thursday afternoon that Oka was tired and looked like she lost a lot of weight, but was otherwise in relatively good physical condition.
Ivanka Oka called her daughter’s physical condition “amazing, considering she didn’t eat anything for a week.”
Oka said her daughter told her she found “some kind of wild squash and beans, which I think must be some kind of seeds.”
According to her mother, Emi Oka said she “ate three beans one day and two beans another day,” and stayed hydrated by “drinking water from the leaves and eating some of the leaves.”
“It was pretty miraculous, actually,” Ponce said. “She showed really good survival skills.”
“She has illness, but she’s very intelligent,” Ivanka Oka said. “She has common sense, although it doesn’t appear that way when she has hallucinations.”
Emi Oka was reportedly in good spirits after being rescued.
“She greeted me with a smile,” Ivanka Oka said. “But later on she cried a little bit.”
Oka described a scene at Wilcox Medical Center, where her daughter was taken for emergency medical treatment Thursday morning. After some time, Emi Oka dozed off in the hospital bed and her father fell asleep while sitting in a chair next to her bed.
“I was just there enjoying watching them sleep,” Ivanka Oka said. “It was amazing just to see them sleeping peacefully.”
Caleb Loehrer, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0441 or firstname.lastname@example.org.