A tourist from Canada was rescued after accidentally driving a rental Jeep off a Ka‘u cliff

In this image taken from video provided by Mike Moody, people work to tow a Jeep to safety after it was accidentally driven off a cliff in Naalehu, Hawaii, on Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024. A tourist driving in the early-morning dark on the southern tip of Hawaii's Big Island accidentally drove the rented Jeep off the cliff, but was able to swim to shore until firefighters pulled him up with a rope and helicopter. (Mike Moody via AP)

Editor’s note: A version of this story appeared on the Tribune-Herald’s website on Sunday. The article that follows has new information about the incident.

HONOLULU — A tourist driving in the early morning dark in Ka‘u accidentally drove his rented Jeep off a cliff but was able to swim to shore until firefighters pulled him up with a rope and helicopter.


The man was treated for facial injuries and slight hypothermia after Sunday’s rescue, the Hawaii County Fire Department said in a news release.

Firefighters, police and the U.S. Coast Guard responded to the cliffs of South Point in Naalehu at about 3:45 a.m. Sunday to a report of a swimmer in distress in the ocean, the release said.

He swam about 100 yards to shore at the bottom of a cliff the fire department estimated to be 50-60 feet (15.24-18.28 meters).

Big Island resident Michael Moody was camping nearby to go spearfishing when the commotion from the rescue woke him up. By then, the tourist was already in the water, Moody said Thursday.

The road there is dangerous for those who aren’t familiar with it, he said.

“It goes from a big major road to a dirt road,” he said. “And that’s only about 100 feet (30.48 meters) long and then it gets really steep, and that’s only about 20 feet (6 meters) long. And then that’s the edge.”

Police told KITV the man, 27, was visiting from Canada.

“We have terrible things that happen because tourists don’t know what they’re doing,” Moody said.

The rescue required 16 people and could have been dangerous for those involved because of the high surf in the area, said Mayor Mitch Roth.

“A lot of resources,” Roth said. “It sounds like a careless act.”

While it’s known among locals as a fishing spot, it’s not a popular destination for tourists — especially at that hour, Roth said.

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