Harrowing Drone Footage Shows Man Swallowed by 30-Foot Hawaiian Waterfall

Renee Lusano was on vacation in Maui when a waterfall overpowered her friend.

— -- Drone footage showing a hiker being swallowed by a 30-foot waterfall is so gut-wrenching that his own friends were surprised to learn that he had survived the ordeal.

"I just assumed that he had to have been dead because the water was this brown, scary, raging waterfall where he was once standing," Renee Lusano of Los Angeles told ABC News today. "He was nowhere to be seen, so I just assumed he was somewhere in the water below the waterfall.

"It is miraculous he survived because the force and the aeration of the waterfall; he could've easily hit the bottom where he was."

Lusano said she was visiting her friend Sean Steininger in Hawaii when a group of them decided to do the Commando Hike in Maui.

"We were all like, 'Where is Sean? Where did Sean go?'" she said. "We just imagined the worst. It just seemed like he had been swallowed up by it."

Lusano said that because of the dangers of the surging waters, she and her friends rushed to safety, while Steininger was still nowhere to be found.

"I had heard the word flash flood on the news, but not that day and not on Maui," she said. "My heart started pounding and I thought, 'I need to get to higher ground immediately.'"

A few moments later, Steininger emerged from the waters shockingly unharmed and the group was eventually airlifted away from the flood.

"I went all the way over in the water below," he said. "There's a split second that I did [fear death], but really my brain turned into survival mode when I actually realized this was going to be an event.

"What I was thinking was, 'You're going to get broken up by the rocks pretty bad and you're going to have to make your way up to the surface once you hit that water below."

As for Lusano's drone footage, Steininger said it's amazing she was able to capture the incident.

"They like to take their drone out on all occasions, so when we were sitting around waiting to be evac'ed, I said, 'Hey guys, did you get the shot?' and sure enough, they did," he said. "To be quite honest, I was not going to show my mom. Now that the cat's out of the bag, I guess I can show her."

Steininger said in light of this experience he plans on being more cautious while adventuring.

"The fire department told us they were just happy they weren't lifting another body out there this time, so it's definitely very serious," he said. "It's not just another news alert. It's definitely something that you need to be aware of."