A 32-year-old U.S. Army soldier was visiting Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano when he climbed over the safety guard for a better look and fell from a 300-foot cliff into the volcano’s caldera.
The man happened to land on a narrow ledge about 70 feet down and survived the fall. According to National Park Service officials, the man fell at approximately 6:30 p.m. local time on May 1 and was rescued around 9 p.m. that same night.
The man’s name has been withheld, but according to KGMB, he is a Schofield Barracks soldier who was on the Big Island with his unit as part of a training mission.
The man allegedly wanted to get a closer look at the volcano when he stepped over the safety rail and the ground began to give way underneath his feet.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park rangers and rescue personnel from Hawaii County Fire Department coordinated a rescue effort that involved repelling down the cliff to find the man.
32-Year-Old Soldier Falls 70 Feet Into Active Hawaiian Volcano — and Survives https://t.co/l8V7UOMLX6
— People (@people) May 3, 2019
“Responders arrived quickly after and began a coordinated search and rescue of the area,” the National Park Service said.
“At approximately 9 p.m., the man was found alive but seriously injured on a narrow ledge about 70 feet down from the cliff edge.”
“Rescue personnel successfully completed a high angle extrication using ropes and stokes litter and, with support from a Department of Defense helicopter, the man was airlifted to Hilo Medical Center for urgent care.”
Chief Ranger John Broward reminded the public that safety guards are in place for a reason.
“Visitors should never cross safety barriers, especially around dangerous and destabilized cliff edges,” Broward said in the NPS statement.
“Crossing safety barriers and entering closed areas can result in serious injuries and death.”
Kilauea is one of the world’s most active volcanoes, even though it is not currently erupting, according to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.
First responders told KGMB that it was a miracle the man survived the dangerous fall.
“He obviously is doing remarkably well for his fall,” Hawaii County Fire Department Battalion Chief Matthias Kusch told the station. “Only time will tell what injuries he has.”
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