Hiker survives 1,000-foot ‘worst case scenario’ fall from Hawaii trail: ‘Miracle of God’

Travel blogger Ian Snyder says it’s a miracle he’s alive after he fell 1,000 feet while hiking in Hawaii

The 34-year-old California native took the tumble after he reached the peak on the Koolau Summit Trail in Honolulu, Hawaii and was stranded for three days at the base of a waterfall before his rescue last Thursday.

“I never expected a day of hiking like this to go the way it did,” Snyder said at a news conference in Hawaii on Tuesday, where he thanked his rescuers. 

“It’s a miracle, first and foremost, of God,” the father of three said. “I’m glad to be here, incredibly glad to be here and glad to be in mostly one piece. I’m incredibly grateful to all of you for the job you do each and every day.”

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Snyder said he was hiking alone on the trail last Monday when he had his fall.

His family reported him missing and rallied the Oahu hiking community to help find him after no one had heard from him for days. Snyder’s sister said they were able to identify his approximate location based on a video he’d posted on social media during his hike, local news station KHNL reported. 

When rescuers found him three days later, he was dehydrated, covered in bruises and had several broken bones. 

Snyder said he kept alive by drinking from a stream next to where he fell. 

“I had made my peace with God. I said, I know you. I know that Christ is Lord and he’s my savior and I will be OK whether I live or whether I die,” he recounted. “At the same time, I wanted to live. I wasn’t giving up the will to live.”

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Rescuers who spoke at the news conference were at a loss to explain how Snyder survived.

The Honolulu Fire Department helicopter crew could scarcely believe he was alive when they spotted him through a clearing in the trees.

“To our disbelief, he was waving his hands to get our attention,” Honolulu Fire Capt. Adrian Gravalho said. “We still don’t understand how to explain it.

Allen Zhang, an EMS paramedic, said he and his partner were “expecting the worst case scenario” when they were called to the rescue.

“Falling 1,000 feet from a trail is no joke,” Zhang said. 

“We ended up treating another 14 patients that shift, but as you can imagine Mr. Snyder, your call was the most memorable,” he added.

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Snyder shared several hard lessons learned from the ordeal with reporters.

He acknowledged it was a mistake to hike alone and expressed regret for using Google to plan his trail. He also said he made a split-second decision during his hike that took him on a more treacherous path, one that had severe consequences.

At Tuesday’s press conference, Snyder’s parents were able to thank the firefighters, EMS personnel and Oahu hikers who assisted with the search and rescue. 

“I thank you so much for rescuing my son,” said father John Snyder. 

Some hikers who helped with the search had a chance to meet Snyder on Tuesday.

“I thought the best gift we could give to to the family was that we had found a body and when we had a found a whole human living and breathing and waving at the sky,” said Amber FOnte of Oahu Hiking Community. “It was like, ‘Merry Christmas.’” 

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