Leslie Charles Merrell was the father of two children. Leslie was a carpenter and an avid hiker. He was the organizer of the Oahu Hikers and Adventurers group on Meetup.com and helped to plan many fun hiking excursions for Hawaii’s residents. Merrell, originally from Carrollton, Georgia, was a widowed husband and the father to two little girls.
On March 18, 2012, Merrell took part in a hike through Oahu Hikers and Adventurers. The plan was to do Bear Claw to Pu’u Kona down Kuliouou West (near the traditional Kuliouou Ridge Trail). The Meetup was scheduled to start at 8am. On the event page, the following description was used to describe the hike: “If you are not used to scrambling, climbing rocks, walking on narrow ridges , DO NOT sign up for this hike. This is a advanced hike.”
A member of the Oahu Weekend Hikers group on Facebook had been watching the group climb the Bear Claw trail from his home. He posted on the group page at around 1:40pm that “One hiker fell 100 ft on top of Puu O Kona!”
I then received an ominous text from Marvin at around 2:48 pm asking if I heard about Leslie. He had fallen near Puu O’ Kona (Pu’u O Kona is located a short distance from the terminus of the Kuliouou Ridge Trail). A few moments later I received another text from Marvin that they had just pronounced him dead.
I was at a lost for words. It hit me that I actually considered attending this particular meetup.
Apparently, Merrell was holding onto a boulder that dislodged. He fell over 150 feet.
Although I’ve hiked with the OHA group before, I never had the opportunity to hike with Leslie. However, Marvin had hiked with him on numerous occasions. In fact, one of his earliest hikes was with Leslie on the Kamiloiki to Makapu’u trail. More recently, he joined Leslie on a hike to Kaena Point.
Leslie was integral to the Hawaii hiking community. He will be terribly missed. My heart goes out to the Merrell Family and especially to Leslie’s two little girls. May you rest in peace, Leslie.
UPDATE 3/19/2012: Below is a news report from KHON2 News about Leslie.
- Hiker Falls, Dies On Waimanalo Trail -KITV News
- Avid hiker dies after falling 150 feet off unsanctioned trail -Brianne Randle for KHON2
- Hiker falls to his death on Waimanalo trail -Hawaii News Now
- Hiker Falls, Dies On Waimanalo Trail -MSNBC
A scholarship memorial fund has been set up by friends of Leslie Charles Merrell. Donated funds will go toward Merrell’s two daughters.