Several Kauai Firefighters were given national recognition for their part in the rescue of 121 hikers stranded at Hanakapiai when the stream flooded. They were awarded the 2014 International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) Benjamin Franklin Fire Service Award for Valor. The ceremony was held in Dallas, Texas. They were nominated for the award by one of the persons rescued back in April.
Several hikers were stranded at Hanakapi’ai on Sunday, April 6, 2014 when stream waters swelled up making it unsafe to cross. The Kauai Fire Department was notified of the issue around 4:00 pm on Sunday and were able to rescue 23 of the stranded hikers on Sunday evening, along with the remaining 98 on Monday morning. They were able to rescue up to 4 hikers at a time with each flight of Air 1, their rescue helicopter, making a total of 25 trips. 2 of the fire rescuers stayed with the 98 hikers overnight.
Those rescued included an 12-year old boy and a 18-month-old baby. Zach Greenburg (12) from Salt Lake City, Utah was caught in the water and swept downstream. He managed to get back onto solid ground on the opposite side of the stream where he was stranded on a rock for over 4 hours until rescuers were able to get to him.
Rich Greenberg, Zach’s Father explained his son’s experience, “He slipped and let go of his sister’s hand so he didn’t pull her in and I tried to grab his hand and I slipped and so my daughter, who was in the backpack with me, got swept in the river with me and Zach got swept in the river in really high force rapids and we went over a couple of little drops and seemed like forever. I got out of the river and took my daughter off my back with the backpack and ran down to see if he was okay because I knew he had passed me, panicking and got there to find him across the river and safe, only by the grace of God.”
The full article on the rescue can be found here.
More information about the national recognition can be found on KHON2’s website here.