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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, February 23, 2006

Nu‘uanu Stream kayaker, 62, dies

By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer

A 62-year-old Kalihi man died last night after he ran into trouble while kayaking in a stream deep in Nu'uanu Valley.

The man was kayaking with two other men in Nu'uanu Stream when his kayak overturned, said Detective Gary Lahens. The man was taken to Kuakini Medical Center where he was pronounced dead shortly before 7:45 p.m.

The men apparently began their journey off Nu'uanu Pali Drive near Jackass Ginger Pool, where they had parked their car, and wound up a few hundred yards away just below the Ilanawai subdivision.

Fire rescue crews and residents along the stream said that until now, they had never heard of or seen anyone kayaking in the stream, which was higher than usual because of the recent heavy rains.

A spokeswoman with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources said last night that she was not sure if the three men had violated any law by kayaking in that part of the stream.

The accident occurred at dusk, just as sunlight was fading in the valley. An Ilanawai resident said he happened to glance out his window and was surprised at what he saw.

"I was looking out my window at the stream and I noticed that there were three kayaks, which I thought was kind of interesting because I never saw a kayak (there) before," said the man, who did not want his name used. "Then I noticed that one of the kayakers seemed to be pulling one of the other kayakers up on his kayak and it looked like he was dead weight, and it looked like he was starting CPR so I called 911."

The Honolulu Fire Department responded to the cardiac arrest call shortly before 7 p.m., but when firefighters got to the scene they realized they needed help.

"They did a quick assessment and felt they needed the assistance of Rescue because of the nature of the incline," said Battalion Chief Scott Lawton. "It was by the water. It was very steep, wet and right at the base."

Rescue crews managed to extract the man and he was taken to the hospital in critical condition. It was not known if he suffered from a medical problem before he entered the water.

Another fire official said the two other men, who appeared to be in their 20s or 30s, told rescuers that the older man "kind of flipped over, like he did it on purpose."

"But we don't know what happened," he said. "He may have passed out prior to that."

The two other men were not injured.

Lawton said it was one of the more unusual calls that he's responded to. "I've never heard of kayaking over here. It's not a normal occurrence, from our standpoint anyway," he said.

Reach Curtis Lum at culum@honoluluadvertiser.com.