MAUI, Hawaii (KGTV) - Maui authorities have identified the Vista woman killed during a flash flood as 26-year-old Shannon Benstead.
Benstead was swimming with three other people in Hana, on the eastern side of Maui, when a flash flood pushed through the Waioka Pond where they were swimming. Two of them climbed to safety and one was swept into the ocean but was able to swim back. The fourth, Benstead, was last seen clinging to rocks, then was later found unresponsive on the rocky shoreline.
Locals in the area say flash floods are common.
“We get a lot of rain on this side during the wintertime, we get constant cold fronts. Week after week. Week after week,” said Caroline De Jetley.
The day of the incident, there were various flood advisories issued by the National Weather Service for the area.
According to Caroline, the scenic cliffs and pools used to be a hidden gem for locals, but recently became known to tourists. She said locals know how to read the weather and prepare for potential flash floods, but many visitors do not. From her experience, it could be sunny on the beach but if there are dark clouds near the mountains, then flash floods are likely.
“Don’t go in the water if you see the mountains dark. Just don’t because you don’t know when it’s going to come. It’s not if, it’s when,” she said.
The County of Maui’s website has a list of precautions to take in case of flash floods:
MFD advises all hikers to:
- Wear brightly colored clothes so rescue crews can more easily spot you.
- Take adequate amount of water and snacks.
- Start hikes early and know when the sun sets (darkness). Leave adequate time to get back.
- Let someone else know where you are hiking and when you should return.
- Make sure cell phones are fully charged and take an extra battery.
- Be aware remote areas will not have cell phone coverage.
- Never dive or jump into ponds due to submerged rocks/ledges.
- Never cross or swim in streams/ponds when dark clouds are on the mountains.
- Heed all warning signs and do not trespass on private property.
- Stay on trails and pack out any rubbish. Leave only footprints. Never hike alone.
- Be prepared for sudden changes in weather. Bring a poncho, jacket. sunscreen, and mosquito repellent.
- Call the National Weather Service at 808-944-3756, Ext 2. Heed all advisories, watches, and warnings.
- Call the Maui County Automated Information Line at 808-986-1200, Ext 1.
- Check out www.weather.gov/hawaii.
Also Be Aware:
- Flash flooding may still occur even when sunny due to rain clouds higher up in the mountains.
- Newer editions of guidebooks have many safety messages. Read and abide by them.
- River rocks can be very slippery. Stay away from cliff edges. Be aware of falling rocks.
- Better to stay put than risk hiking in darkness.
- Hawaii's streams may be contaminated with leptospirosis.