VIDEO: Visitors from San Jose on Hawaii tour get stuck in river during flood advisory: ‘We held on for dear life’


(KHON) — What started off as a fun trip in Windward Oahu quickly turned dangerous for a group of visitors Monday.

Six people from California came to Kualoa Ranch for a thrilling experience, but got more than they bargained for when their guided ATV tour ended with a rescue.

The visitors told KHON2 they came across a stream that quickly rose. While they felt it wasn’t safe, they said they followed their tour guide and their ATVs got stuck in the water.

“It was the scariest thing I ever experienced in my life,” said Angelo Miller, who is visiting from San Jose. “My ATV actually just went back, tipped over. I had to jump off and grab onto one. My wife was just going back and back and back, she had to jump off. My brother and I, we had to carry her over to safety to get on one of our ATVs. One of the other couples, they went through same thing. We held on for dear life. We got stuck in water for 20 minutes. It felt like three days, that’s what it felt like.”

“I’m still petrified. I could bust out into tears right now, but my stomach inside is literally still shaking. I don’t believe we made it through it,” said Tiffany Marco, also from San Jose. “My husband doesn’t know how to swim. He (gestures to someone else) doesn’t know how to swim. All I could think is if they fall, they’re done. It was deep water, not shallow water. If you were in it, you were going to be sucked under.

“I fell underneath the water and it felt like I had 80 people holding me down, and my face was underneath the water, and they all pulled me back up, and that’s how everything started,” Marco added.

The visitors say they were stuck for nearly 30 minutes before they were rescued. They learned construction workers on site helped pull them out of the water.

The group then met with Kualoa Ranch management for over an hour.

We reached out to Kualoa Ranch to find out what happened and what its safety protocols are in the event of bad weather, and received the following statement:

“We are incredibly thankful that no one was hurt today. The safety of our guests is of the utmost importance, and we are currently conducting an internal investigation into what occurred.”

— John Morgan, president, Kualoa Ranch

It was pouring in some parts of Oahu Monday with much of the island under a flood advisory throughout the afternoon. A storm system sitting west of Kauai triggered heavy showers from Kauai to Maui.

Click here for KHON2’s Interactive Radar.

Heavy rain was first recorded along Windward Oahu, falling at a rate of 1 to 2 inches per hour and nearly stationary, leading to elevated stream levels. It then shifted over the leeward areas of Oahu, with the heaviest occurring over the Waipahu and Ewa areas.

Expect a slow afternoon commute, especially near the H-1 and H-2 merge and Fort Weaver Road.


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