A Hawaii fire official told DailyMail.com that “treacherous waves” prevented them from responding to the drowning of a 29-year-old mother of two after falling from the top of a cliff.
Kalaiokealaula Ashley Nicole Reyes Kanekoa was with her boyfriend, Dylan Gapp, 31, watching the waves on a cliff near Hawaiian Paradise Park around 2 a.m. Sunday when she slipped and fell into the raging current near the Puna coast .
Her frantic boyfriend said he had to listen to her ‘suffer and scream for help’ during the agonizing wait for emergency personnel to arrive which he said took hours. Hawaii News Now reported.
He said when police and firefighters finally arrived, they were not equipped with the life-saving equipment they needed to rescue his girlfriend.
Hawaii Fire Department Chief Kazuo Todd told DailyMail.com that the “high wave and small craft warnings” in effect that night were part of the “extremely challenging conditions” that prevented them from reaching Kanekoa for 90 minutes.
A Hawaii fire official told DailyMail.com that “treacherous waves” prevented them from responding to a 29-year-old mother of two who drowned after falling from the top of a cliff.
Her boyfriend Dylan Gapp, 31, said he had to listen to her ‘suffer and scream for help’ during the agonizing wait for emergency personnel to arrive.
Hawaii Fire Department Chief Kazuo Todd told DailyMail.com that the “high wave and small craft warnings” in effect that night were part of the “extremely challenging conditions” that prevented them from reaching Kanekoa.
“Despite these conditions, our team launched a rescue operation immediately after receiving the distress call,” he said.
Another struggle involved the department being unable to deploy a helicopter due to weather and nighttime conditions, before blaming a lack of funding, saying they need “continued investments” in more equipment and training.
“These limitations, while regrettable, are a current limitation of our resources and capabilities, highlighting an area of potential improvement in our emergency response arsenal,” Todd said.
Describing the summary of his operation, he said a boat was dispatched within 20 minutes of the first call, but they faced “treacherous waves”, leading to the 90-minute rescue time.
“The safety of our personnel, who must navigate these dangerous conditions to perform rescues, is always a primary concern, dictating the cautious approach necessary to reach those in need,” he added.
Todd said conditions at sea and along the cliffs where Kanekoa fell were “almost impossible” to enter “without risking serious injury or death.”
He said the Hawaii Fire Department will review and learn from the incident in an attempt to clear it and offered his condolences to the family of the mother of two.
“We extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Kala’iokealaula Ashley Nicole Reyes Kanekoa during this incredibly difficult time,” he said.
Gapp described Sunday’s horrific events from his perspective.
During the ordeal, he tried to throw a flotation device at her, but tragically the young woman was swept away by the ocean currents.
Traumatized by the unimaginable event, Gapp said his girlfriend survived the fall but not the long wait for help, and claimed emergency personnel should have done more to save her, according to the news outlet.
Kalaiokealaula Ashley Nicole Reyes Kanekoa, 29, was described by her boyfriend as a loving and devoted mother who would do anything for her children.
The mother of two slipped and fell off a cliff and then drowned early Sunday near Hawaiian Paradise Park as her horrified boyfriend tried to rescue her. She was not believed to be pregnant at the time of her drowning.
Todd said conditions at sea and along the cliffs where Kanekoa fell were “almost impossible” to enter “without risking serious injury or death” that day.
‘I had to get him a raft. They had no flotation device. I brought the raft to them and said, ‘Okay, let’s put a rope on it so it doesn’t drift,’ and they said, ‘Oh, we don’t have any rope,'” Gapp said. Hawaii News Now.
“Sitting there and watching this little girl suffer for 45 minutes to an hour suffering and screaming for help and being told that eventually ships would come.”
Hawaii County police and firefighters responded seven minutes after the 911 call.
Officials said the fire truck was not required to carry marine equipment and, due to the dangerous conditions of a large north swell, it was too dark and dangerous for rescuers to enter the water.
Hawaii County Police Capt. Todd Pataray told the news outlet that they “requested services from the fire department for a rescue boat, attempted to call a fire department helicopter and called the Coast Guard.”
Gapp said he tried to save his girlfriend on his own and swam to where she was clinging to a raft after an hour of waiting for the helicopter and rescue boat to surface, but when he returned, he said the emergency services could no longer. I don’t see her anymore.
The devastated boyfriend recounted the painful and heartbreaking experience in detail.
‘She sitting on that raft screaming for help. “What do I do now? What do I do now?” And me telling him that they are going to catch you, and that they are going to catch you. And they never came to get her,” Gapp recalled to Hawaii News Now.
The Hawaii Fire Department told Hawaii News Now that conditions were too windy to fly the helicopter, and said the rescue boat had to come from Hilo about 15 miles offshore and arrive at 4 a.m.
According to police, the fire department and the Coast Guard searched for the missing woman during the early morning hours, and at 8 a.m., almost six hours after the tragic fall, the young woman’s body was found approximately four miles away. off the coast near Honolulu Landing in Pahoa.
She was transported to Hilo Medical Center where she was pronounced deceased at 10:58 a.m., according to a police statement.
An autopsy determined the manner and cause of death to be accidental drowning. Police said no foul play was suspected. People reported.
Hawaiian authorities told the news outlet that an investigation is underway and they are awaiting toxicology reports.
Another view of the cliff where the mother of two tragically lost her life early Sunday morning.
A memorial has been installed on the side of a cliff near the spot where the young mother, who tragically fell early Sunday morning, died.
Gapp called his love “a loving and caring person.”
‘She loved her children more than anything. She had a lot of fun. Lots of joy in life. She was always laughing, laughing,” she said.
TO GoFundMe was created to help raise funds for Keankekoa’s funeral. As of Friday afternoon, more than $8,300 has been raised, exceeding their goal of $8,000.
Friends and loved ones expressed their grief on social media sharing how much Reyes Kanekoa touched their lives.
‘My sweet and beautiful friend, you were the first friend I ever had. Fly high with the angels, rest easy, my beautiful friend.’
Another friend wrote: ‘She will always remain in the hearts of all of us who loved and appreciated her deeply. Kala’i was a light and she shared that light with everyone.’
‘I thank all the powers that be for having been able to meet her in life. May she rest in the same light and love that she gave to others.’