Woman, 20, dead after 150-foot fall from Maui zip line


HONOLULU — A 20-year-old Maui woman died Thursday after a zip-line accident in Makawao, fire officials said.

Firefighters were called to a zip-line attraction near Piiholo Ranch in Makawao just before 10 a.m. on Thursday, said Maui Fire Department spokesman Capt. Lionel Montalvo.

Rescue crews hiked down into a gulch, where they found the woman dead. A helicopter airlifted the woman back up to the ridge.

The woman’s identity wasn’t immediately released.

“Rescue efforts were hampered due to the difficult terrain, vegetation and tree cover,” the fire department said in a news release.

It appears the woman fell about 150 feet to her death, but it wasn’t clear if she fell from a zip line tower or if she was on the zip line course, Montalvo said.

Maui police are investigating.

Piiholo Ranch officials couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. Its website advertises zip line tours and adventures.

Zip lines send thrill-seekers gliding along cables at speeds approaching 30 mph. They are often in rural areas, usually over tree canopies, and have been gaining in popularity, especially on neighbor islands.

A Big Island zip-line tower collapsed in 2011 because of weak soil, sending Ted Callaway, 36, of Lahaina plunging to his death. The line was being built along the Big Island’s Honolii Stream. Another worker was critically injured in the accident.

State Auditor Marion Higa said in a 2012 report submitted to Gov. Neil Abercrombie and the Hawaii Legislature that there’s not enough evidence to suggest zip lines are seriously dangerous, despite the death of Callaway, who was testing the zip line. When lawmakers proposed having zip lines companies regulated by the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, Higa said it’s not clear whether regulations would have prevented the accident.

Maui has about a half dozen zip-line attractions.

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