By TOM CALLIS
Tribune-Herald staff writer
A 73-year-old man is lucky to be alive after falling 115 feet into the Kilauea Caldera, the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park ranger who rescued him said Wednesday.
Harry Osachy of Kurtistown fell off the sheer cliff behind the Volcano House sometime Monday and spent a night alone in the thick brush before being airlifted out Tuesday.
It was that thick vegetation that he can thank for his life, said John Broward, park search and rescue coordinator.
“Under the circumstances, I would say he was very lucky,” said Broward, who was lowered by helicopter to Osachy’s location.
Broward said he has never heard of anyone surviving such a long fall.
“It’s usually a body recovery at that point,” he said.
Osachy, who is Micronesian, speaks little English, the park said. But he was able to communicate to rescuers that he had injured both his left hip and right shoulder, Broward said.
He also had numerous scrapes and suffered dehydration.
Beyond that, the extent of his injuries was unclear.
After being airlifted out shortly after 6 p.m., Osachy was transported by ambulance to Hilo Medical Center.
A hospital spokeswoman said Wednesday afternoon that he had been discharged.
Osachy fell after stepping over a rock wall, park spokeswoman Jessica Ferracane said.
It’s unclear why he got so close to the edge and what time he fell.
No one reported the fall, and Osachy was not discovered until a woman hiking the Halemaumau Trail heard him crying for help Tuesday.
Ferracane said the woman thought it might have been a prank. But, luckily for Osachy, she reported what she heard to park rangers at the Kilauea Visitor Center at about 4:45 p.m.
Broward said Osachy was calm when he arrived but was unable to move from his position.
“He was just lying on his back,” he said.
Broward said the brush was so thick he had trouble finding the ground as he was lowered from the helicopter.
He attached Osachy to a backboard before hoisting him out.
Broward said park visitors should always be aware of dangers before entering an area and stay away from cliff edges.
The rescue was the 13th search-and-rescue mission at the park this year.
Last year, there were 26.
Email Tom Callis at firstname.lastname@example.org.