Hawaiian vacation nearly turns deadly for Seattle firefighter

SEATTLE -- A Seattle firefighter had a harrowing day on a Hawaiian trail when he and his daughter were caught in torrential rains and became stranded on the Island of Kauai.

The dream vacation quickly turned into a nightmare, but firefighter Joaquin Hubbard proved he's the right guy to have around when things go wrong.

"They asked if we wanted to go on a hike with them and it sounded great. You know, it was a beautiful day," Hubbard said. "It was a bit windy, but it was sunny, really nice big waves on the coast and humpback whales."

As Hubbard, his girlfriend and his daughter made their way to a waterfall with another group of hikers, the rain became even heavier. They met up with another group of hikers stranded across a raging river.

To most, it may seem an impossible task to have the lives of 20 people in your hands, but firefighters aren't like most people.

"One of them was pregnant, that was also a concern," Hubbard said. "I started kicking into emergency mode, you know, thinking something needed to be done or people could get really cold overnight and into trouble."

Leaving everyone behind, Hubbard used a tree limb to cross the river and get help. When rescue crews arrived, they realized there were more to be saved -- now more than 50.

Finally, helicopters arrived and buckets were lowered. But time was a concern.

"There were so many people and it was getting late they were running out of time and fuel," Hubbard said.

One person died in the rescue, but everyone else made it to safety. In true firefighter fashion, Hubbard said the attention should be focused on someone else.

"They made a lot of rescues that day and did an amazing amazing job," he said. "They're the heroes of that situation, did a fantastic job that day."