Visitor to Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano climbs over barrier, falls into caldera

VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK, HI - DECEMBER 12: The Kilauea Volcano and the National Park is viewed on December 12, 2016, at Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii. Hawaii, the largest of all the Hawaiian Islands at 4,000 square miles and growing, features active volcanoes, large cattle ranches, unusual flora and fauna, waterfalls, rainforests, and occasionally, snowcapped mountains. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)

HAWAII — A visitor to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park climbed past the metal railing, lost his footing and fell into the Kilauea volcano caldera, according to Ben Hayes, spokesperson with the National Park Service.

Hayes said on Wednesday evening, authorities got a call that a man had fallen into the caldera — the crater formed by previous volcanic activity. He was with a group, which is why the call came in instantly.

“He had crossed over a metal railing to get closer to the cliff edge where he lost his footing and fell in,” Hayes said. “Park officials immediately launched a search and rescue operation with the Hawaii County Fire Department and around 9 p.m. local time search and rescue located the man. He was seriously injured, perched on a narrow ledge 70 feet from the cliff edge.”

Hayes stressed, “visitors should never cross safety barriers, especially near the caldera’s ridge. It’s still a very dynamic area following last year’s activity.”

Officials began a rescue operation, including the use of a rope system to extract the man from the ledge. He was rescued in about an hour, Hayes said.

The man was transported to an open area of the park and airlifted to Hilo Medical Center, where he was treated for his injuries. The man’s age and location have not been released.

When asked if the visitor could face any charges or consequences for crossing the barrier, Hayes said, “rangers will complete an investigation and make that determination after the investigation is over.”

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