Canadian tourist drives Jeep off cliff

Michael Moody / Via Associated Press

In this image taken from video, people work to tow a Jeep to safety after it was accidentally driven off a cliff in Naalehu, Hawaii, on Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024.

HONOLULU — A tourist driving in the early morning dark on the southern tip of Hawai‘i Island accidentally drove his rented Jeep off a cliff, but was able to swim to shore until firefighters pulled him up with a rope and helicopter.

The man was treated for facial injuries and slight hypothermia after Sunday’s rescue, the Hawai‘i County Fire Department said in a news release.

Firefighters, police and the U.S. Coast Guard responded to the cliffs of South Point in Na‘alehu at about 3:45 a.m. Sunday to a report of a swimmer in distress in the ocean, the release said.

He swam about 100 yards to shore at the bottom of a cliff the fire department estimated to be 50-60 feet.

Hawai‘i Island resident Michael Moody was camping nearby to go spearfishing when the commotion from the rescue woke him up. By then, the tourist was already in the water, Moody said Thursday.

The road there is dangerous for those who aren’t familiar with it, he said.

“It goes from a big major road to a dirt road,” he said. “And that’s only about 100 feet long, and then it gets really steep, and that’s only about 20 feet long. And then that’s the edge.”

Police told KITV the man, 27, was visiting from Canada.

“We have terrible things that happen because tourists don’t know what they’re doing,” Moody said.

The rescue required 16 people and could have been dangerous for those involved because of the high surf in the area, said Mayor Mitch Roth.

“A lot of resources,” Roth said. “It sounds like a careless act.”

While it’s known among locals as a fishing spot, it’s not a popular destination for tourists — especially at that hour, Roth said.

  1. Howard Tolbe March 1, 2024 9:15 am Reply

    That is the reason why we shouldn’t rent cars to tourist! Let them all ride bus , uber, and taxi to get around the islands.
    Some tourist do crazy and daring drive around the island.

    Howard Tolbe

    P.S. We have enough local crazy drivers around the islands. They don’t stop at stop signs, they run the red traffic lights, they make sudden turns. The list goes on!

  2. vicky March 1, 2024 10:21 am Reply

    Ohhh wow the US coast guard and fire department can rescue a Canadian but not our own local Kalaiokealaula Ashley Nicole Reyes Kanekoa of Keaau, why the the US coast guard and fire department can get to this man so quick and can’t even rescue a woman on a floater in the ocean. They could have saved her the same way they saved this man. Sickening!! I would be so outraged if i was her family!

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