By Talia Avakian
May 03, 2019
35007/Getty Images

A man visiting Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park fell 70 feet into the Kilauea caldera after climbing over a metal railing to get a closer look, park officials said in a statement.

The man, who army officials told Hawaii News Now is a 32-year-old Schofield Barracks soldier on the Big Island for a training mission at Pohakuloa, survived the fall after rescuers were able to locate him on Wednesday evening.

Visitors who witnessed the incident told park officials he climbed over the railing at the Steaming Bluff overlook and lost his footing, slipping off of the 300-foot cliff. Responders found the man alive but “seriously injured” on a narrow ledge located 70 feet down from the cliff.

They were able to pull him up using ropes and a helicopter provided by the Department of Defense, airlifting him to the Hilo Medical Center.

“He obviously is doing remarkably well for his fall; only time will tell what injuries he has,” battalion chief of the Hawaii County Fire Department Mattias Kusch told Hawaii News Now.

Kilauea, the youngest volcano on the Island of Hawai’i, is one of the world’s most active, according to the United States Geological Survey. It erupted in May of 2018, forcing thousands of residents to evacuate their homes to reach safety and leading to the temporary closure of the park.

The park just recently reopened the Kilauea Iki Trail, which was closed for almost a year after the eruptions in May.

“Visitors should never cross safety barriers, especially around dangerous and destabilized cliff edges,” Chief Ranger John Broward said in the statement. “Crossing safety barriers and entering closed areas can result in serious injuries and death.”

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