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Rescuers respond to illegal hikers

By Paul Drewes
Published On: Aug 05 2012 06:26:00 PM HST

A death on an Oahu trail, which had been closed for decades, highlights just one of the problems with illegal hiking in Hawaii.

KANEOHE, Hawaii -

A death on a closed Oahu trail highlights the problem with illegal hiking in the islands.

Many mornings Haiku Valley resident Lyvonne Loui is woken up with the sounds of barking dogs.

"Thursday to the weekend, from about 2:30 to 3:00 our dog would start barking, and the neighbor's dog would start barking," said Loui.

The dogs barked because hikers arrived early to get to the Haiku Stairs trail. A trail known as the "Stairway to Heaven" has been shut down since 1987.

"The hikers would go anyway they can. They trespass through my property or my neighbor's property. Nobody respects the closed signs. It has been frustrating, frustrating for all the neighbors," said Loui.

It has not only frustrating for neighbors, it has also been hazardous for emergency personnel responding on trails that are not maintained.

"Any time we have to hike at a height or use the helicopter, there was a risk involved -- a risk of injury or falling," said Capt. Gary Lum, with the Honolulu Fire Department.

Fire crews were on the stairs Sunday morning to respond to a medical emergency.

"Our crews hiked up the trail to the first landing of the Haiku Stairs. The helicopter couldn't fly because of low visibility. Firefighters did CPR for about an hour," said Lum.

The hiker, who had reportedly gone up to watch the sunrise from the top of the Haiku Stairs, died.

The steep Kaneohe trail was not the only one hikers have been using illegally. Sacred Falls trail was shut down in 1999, but less than two months ago the fire department rescued an injured hiker from that restricted area.

Nearly $900,000 was spent in 2003 to fix up the Haiku Stairs, but the trail was never re-opened.

Neighbors said noise and trespassing problems grew worse after those improvements.

There are no plans by the state to re-open the "Stairway to Heaven" trail.

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