Woman’s body recovered from Wailuku River

KELLY MROWINSKI

A woman’s body was pulled from the Wailuku River this morning, according to the Hawaii Fire Department.

The body was seen going over Rainbow Falls at about 2 p.m. Saturday. According to a written Fire Department statement, the body continued to float, face down, down the river, which is swollen from recent heavy rains.

It’s unknown at this point if the body is that of Kelly Mrowinski, a traveling nurse in her 20s from the Chicago area who was swept over Piihonua Falls on Jan. 26 by flash flood waters while hiking with another individual.

“I talked to (police) and they have no report of any missing person other than (Mrowinski),” said Fire Battalion Chief Matthias Kusch. He said the body was that of “a Caucasian female who had not recently drowned.”

Matthias said a positive identification couldn’t be made at this point but he “couldn’t rule out” that the body is that of Mrowinski.

An extensive search for Mrowinski late last month and early this month proved unsuccessful.

A county helicopter was dispatched to the scene Saturday afternoon and was able to spot the body, which was stuck in an eddy in the river above Reeds Island. River conditions were extreme with very high flow rates from the heavy rains that have fallen in the past several days.

Fire Rescue personnel were guided down a steep embankment to a small cliff and secured the body with a line at dusk Saturday.

At first light this morning, ground units set up a rope system above the river and retrieved the body, which was turned over to the Hawaii Police Department.

An autopsy will be done to identify the body and determine the exact cause of death.

Wailuku means “waters of destruction” in Hawaiian and its waters have claimed the lives of numerous hikers and swimmers — and the occasional falls jumper — over the years, especially during flash floods, despite the warning signs posted at Rainbow Falls and Piihonua Falls.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.