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Tourist dies after 250-foot fall from cliff on treacherous Hawaii trail

April 8, 2022 / 6:10 AM EDT / CBS/AP

A visitor to Hawaii fell off a cliff and died Wednesday while hiking a ridge line trail near a mountain summit on the east side of Oahu. The 30-year-old traveler fell 250 feet while hiking near the third peak of Mount Olomana, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Thursday.

The name and hometown of the victim was not immediately released.

The Honolulu Fire Department said the man had been hiking with three others, including a Hawaii resident.

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The trail is a treacherous, narrow path that snakes along steep cliffs to a series of peaks.

Another tourist fell from the same trail days earlier and suffered a serious head injury. Local rescue crews have been dispatched to the trail five times this year and responded to 13 calls in 2021, according to a fire department spokesperson.

At least five others have died on the trail since 2011 — including  24-year-old Nathan Stowell. In 2018, KGMB-TV reported that Stowell fell about 400 feet while hiking Olomana Trail on Easter Sunday while trying to retrieve a fallen hat.

The trail is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Land and Natural Resources but the agency does not list it on any state websites. The trail has no official signage and hikers usually traverse the cliffs by using a series of unofficial ropes.

"We don't actively manage the trail, nor do we recommend that people traverse it," said Department of Land and Natural Resources spokesperson Dan Dennison.

KGMB-TV reported that officials have tried to stop the spread of online videos luring people to the steep ridges of the mountain range.

"I've seen in that there seems to be a spike in either injuries or in this case fatalities. More and more it's in areas that are not managed, not sanctioned, out-of-bounds kind of areas," state Parks Administrator Curt Cottrell told the station in 2018.

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Hawaii vacation of 3 friends from East Coast ended in death

HONOLULU — A Hawaii vacation for three tourists from the U.S. East Coast turned deadly after one of them became “psychotically” drunk, his friend testified Wednesday.

Alexander Germany-Wald of Montclair, New Jersey, testified at a preliminary hearing for his college buddy, Benjamin Fleming of Pittsburgh, who is charged with murder in the strangulation of their friend, Abhishek Gupta, also of Pittsburgh.

The three men, friends since college at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, were staying at a Big Island vacation rental last month when Gupta was asked to leave a bar because he was belligerently drunk, Germany-Wald said.

>>>RELATED: Neighbors of Pittsburgh man killed in Hawaii shocked at what happened

Germany-Wald said he took Gupta back to their Kailua-Kona Airbnb, while Fleming stayed behind.

While at the condo, Germany-Wald said, he locked himself in a bedroom because Gupta was “berating” him.

After Fleming returned, Germany-Wald and Gupta got into a fistfight.

“I knew that Mr. Gupta was psychotically drunk and that he was not in control of what he was doing,” Germany-Wald said. “I also knew that I was in grave danger when Mr. Gupta was on top of me.”

Fleming intervened and restrained Gupta, Germany-Wald said, adding that he didn’t see what kind of hold he used to restrain Gupta.

Germany-Wald said while he and Fleming were having a beer in the kitchen, they could hear Gupta snoring. They later noticed Gupta wasn’t breathing and Fleming called 911, Germany-Wald said.

hawaii tourist killed

Benjamin Fleming Benjamin Fleming (Hawaii Police)

Police arrived after paramedics said there wasn’t anything more they could do for Gupta, Germany-Wald said.

Fleming and Germany-Wald were arrested. Germany-Wald was later released without being charged.

Before the hearing got underway, Fleming’s defense attorney, Christopher Eggert, asked that his client be allowed to change out of his jail clothes. Eggert said he was concerned about prejudice against Fleming because the hearing was broadcast on Zoom. The judge allowed him to change shirts.

“I think that’s a fair request,” Judge Cynthia Tai said.

The hearing was scheduled to resume Thursday.

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Hawaii police: Bellevue tourist’s death was homicide

Fifteen months ago, a Bellevue woman visiting Hawaii was found dead on a beach on the Big Island. Now, investigators say someone killed her.

Hawaii Island Police arrested her husband immediately after her death , but then released him. Now police describe him as a person of interest.

On Friday, neighbors of the couple in Bellevue learned that more than a year after 41-year-old Smriti Saxena died, Hawaii police are calling her death a murder .

“I am shocked,” said Sheekee Chan, a neighbor.

“It kind of seemed suspicious from the start,” said Casey Thorn, another neighbor.

According to Hawaii police, Smriti’s husband, 43-year-old Sonam Saxena of Bellevue, reported his wife missing Feb. 18, 2020 while they were on vacation.

Sonam Saxena spoke with the newspaper, West Hawaii Today , at the time. He told the paper his wife had an asthma attack on the beach, so he ran back to their hotel to get her inhaler. He said when he returned, she was gone.

The next morning, Smriti Saxena’s body washed up on the southern shoreline of Anaehoomalu Bay, the northwest side of the Big Island.

Police arrested Sonam Saxena on suspicion of second-degree murder, but released him 48 hours later with no charges. Two days is the maximum amount of time someone can be held in custody in the state without charges being filed.

Police said at the time that an autopsy was inconclusive in determining the exact cause of death.

On Thursday, police shared a news release renewing a request for information from the public, describing her death a homicide.

Lt. Edwin Buyten with the Hawaii Police Department said Smriti Saxena died of “homicidal violence of undetermined means.” Buyten said over the phone that it was up to the forensic pathologist to make the determination of whether the cause of death was homicide. He did not disclose details on what additional information led to that decision.

Neighbors say they never noticed any trouble with the couple before.

“They (were) very quiet. I didn’t hear any argument or noises or anything like that,” Chan said.

“It’s a little concerning knowing there’s a person capable of doing that living on my street … if he did do it,” Thorn said.

KIRO7 knocked on Sonam Saxena’s door, messaged him on social media and through his personal website but did not get any response.

Neighbors said they worry for the couple’s two daughters.

“Horrible for their kids, especially if it was a homicide. Then they’re losing both their parents,” Thorn said.

Hawaii police are asking people who might know anything about this case to call the department’s non-emergency number at (808) 935-3311 or Detective Sheldon Nakamoto of the Area II Criminal Investigation Section at (808) 326-4646 ext. 228. He also can be reached via email at [email protected] .

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Tourist killed in maui wildfires saved up for ‘healing’ trip, died one day before her flight back home.

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A grandmother from California is the first tourist to have been identified as among the 115 confirmed victims in the Maui wildfires — dying just a day before she was due to fly home.

Theresa Cook, 72, of Pollock Pines in El Dorado County was among eight victims whom island officials identified on Tuesday.

She was staying at the Best Western Pioneer Inn and was last seen near the island’s famous banyan tree at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 8, around the time the massive blaze overwhelmed the historic downtown area of Lahaina.

Cook was scheduled to fly home to Sacramento just a day later.

Neighbors told ABC 10 she had recently shared how she saved up money for the big trip to get “some solitude and rest for herself.”

“She had messaged us and said she was having a wonderful time and the island was so healing,” Cook’s daughter, Melissa Kornweibel, told KCRA .

“It was so beautiful,” the dead woman’s son, Adam Cook, added. “She loved it there.”

The siblings had held out hope for weeks that their mother might have miraculously survived the blaze, as they scrambled to find out any information about Cook’s whereabouts.

A woman in a visor holding a baby

Kornweibel said she reached out to the hotel’s property manager and another guest to ask if people had been evacuated.

She found out that guests had been evacuated, but her mother was missing.

An elderly woman standing next to her adult son, in a black shirt, and daughter, in a tan shirt

For nine days, the siblings sought answers from the Red Cross and the Coast Guard, and reached out to people on Facebook.

“They received little guidance as to where their mother had gone but they remained hopeful,” a GoFundMe set up for the family says.

They finally received the devastating news about their mother on Sunday.

Destroyed buildings following a wildfire in Maui

“It’s a lot to process,” Adam said. “It’s still hard to even admit.”

Still, Kornweibel said: “I don’t blame anybody.

“Things happen. Natural disasters happen. We’re human, we make mistakes. We do the best with the information we’re given.”

A woman with glasses on her forehead in a black tank top

Locals have told The Post how the fire started early in the morning of Aug. 8 when a transformer blew and ignited dry grass on Maui County-owned land, about a mile from Lahaina’s historic waterfront.

By 9 a.m., county officials reported that the morning fire was “100% contained” — even though hurricane-force gusts were still blowing in the area.

They then left the scene, with county officials later saying the first responders were needed in other locations. But within an hour, the brush fire reignited and roared down the hillside toward the ocean, destroying nearly everything in its path.

An elderly woman smiling as she eats dinner at a restaurant

Meanwhile, the heads of the Maui and Hawaii emergency management agencies were at an annual conference on Oahu on Aug. 8, the day the fires started leveling Lahaina, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confirmed to HawaiiNewsNow (HNN).

Key federal officials were also at FEMA’s annual disaster meeting when one of the worst disasters in recent US history started occurring on the other island, the outlet said.

A view of a home that was destroyed by the Aug. 8 wildfire

The officials gathering in Waikiki only became part of a “coordinating call about 11 a.m.,” a state emergency management spokesperson told the local outlet of what would have been nearly five hours after the blazes started.

The death toll from the fire has reached 115 people, as the number of missing has increased to 1,100.

What we know about the Maui wildfires

At least 114 people have died in the Maui wildfires that started last Tuesday.

The wildfires, fanned by strong winds, burned multiple buildings, forced evacuations and caused power outages in several communities.

hawaii tourist killed

The National Weather Service said Hurricane Dora was partly to blame for the strong winds that knocked out power as night came. About 13,000 residents in Maui were without power, according to reports.

People rushed into the ocean to escape the smoke and flames fanned by Hurricane Dora.

Fire crews battled multiple fires in the popular tourist destination of West Maui and an inland mountainous region. Firefighters struggled to reach some areas that were cut off by downed trees and power lines.

“We know we’re not alone,” Kornweibel said. “There’s so many people missing and so many people have lost their lives, and we’ve never done this before. 

“We would just love any advice and encouraging words and support.”

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hawaii tourist killed

A tale of two escapes: Tourists and Native Hawaiian locals recount vastly different paths out of Maui’s deadly fires

Photo illustration of volunteers carrying supplies across a beach; a sign that reads "Tourist keep out;" P Mayoga and his wife, Makalea Ahhee, hug on their balcony at a hotel resort where many employees are staying with their families in Lahaina; and wildfire damage to a building in Lahaina.

When Ryan Cabrera, a 37-year-old Native Hawaiian who lives in Lahaina, found himself surrounded by smoke on Tuesday, Aug. 8, he grabbed his daughter’s hand and just ran. Long term, he knew he lost everything in an afternoon. In the immediate aftermath, he didn’t know where his family would sleep that night. 

Meanwhile, Joshua Wang, 53, a tourist in Maui at the time, said he was able to book a same-day flight for his kids after wildfires tore through the island — and retrieve his valuables from his hotel room before most Lahaina locals were allowed to return. 

While thousands fled from the largest climate disaster in Hawaii’s history, several firsthand accounts from the evacuations that day reveal two distinct stories: one of Native Hawaiian locals who faced confusion, loss and limited resources as their homes burned to the ground, and another of wealthy tourists with the means to reach safety, secure a place to stay in some cases and leave the devastation behind them.  

Ryan Cabrera, who is Native Hawaiian, described fleeing from the fires with his daughter, losing his home and not knowing where his family would sleep.

The fires have been mostly contained, but the death toll has reached 106 as of Tuesday , with numbers expected to rise. Officials have begun identifying the dead, releasing two names — Robert Dyckman, 74, and Buddy Jantoc, 79, both of Lahaina — thus far. Many others remain missing. 

“This is not our playground,” said Monique Ibarra, executive director of Ka Hale a Ke Ola Homeless Resource Centers, the largest homeless service provider on Maui. “We’re going through this significant tragedy on our island and then there’s tourists who might be at the beach, having fun with their families and laughing it up.” 

Cabrera said that as his family eventually got into a truck after racing through several neighborhoods, and were brought to the hotel area of the island, it was immediately evident that they were about to process the tragedy in a wildly different way than the tourists.

I think the biggest worry was when we have bodies in that ocean that still had not been discovered, and for us to see them snorkeling when we still haven’t retrieved all our dead — that was hard.

— Pakalana Phillips, a Native Hawaiian Longtime resident of lahaina

“I was covered in dirt, ashes, my eyes, my mouth, everything. I was just so thirsty,” Cabrera, who entered a hotel in search of water, said. “And there were hundreds of tourists drinking, having fun and not even caring.” 

Cabrera said the family initially attempted to drive out of his neighborhood, but black smoke surrounded the vehicle. They made a split-second decision to ditch the truck and run. By the time the family arrived at the next neighborhood, the fire began encroaching the area “within minutes,” he said.

“My daughter’s face. I’m never going to forget that … She was looking at me like, ‘Daddy, are you going to save me?’” he said. “I was literally dragging her. Her knees got cut up. Her foot got cut up. I was just holding her tight.”

A toll on low-income families living in multigenerational homes 

Pakalana Phillips, whose house had been passed down through four generations before it burned to the ground, said that for many low-income, Native Hawaiian families like hers, the recovery process involves metabolizing “multiple layers of loss.” 

According to a 2022 report on financial insecurity in Hawaii, 27% of Native Hawaiians were considered “asset limited, income constrained, employed,” surviving below the basic cost of living in the state. The racial group also has the highest levels of poverty in the state, across all major ethnicities, and are twice as likely to become homeless. 

Some of the neighborhoods hit hardest were ones that housed primarily working-class families, who have long lived in Lahaina and will have to face down both potential displacement from the town forever and anguish from losing their loved ones, Phillips, 47, said. 

Pakalana Phillips lived in a multigenerational household of eight in Lahaina and described losing her relative to the wildfires.

Phillips, who had left her home earlier that same Tuesday, said her uncle, one of eight in the household, had stayed behind. He was on the phone with her mother-in-law as flames surrounded their house. 

“He said he was going to get stuck in there,” Phillips said. “The phone hung up and disconnected.” 

An emotional Phillips said she has been mourning her uncle’s death while dealing with “survivor’s remorse.”

“If we were home, he could have gotten out,” she said. “But then there’s also the reality of if we were home, we would all die.” 

The islanders, of course, are looking to get back to their homes to see if their pets are alive, to see if their house has completely burned down. We were looking to go back just to get some stuff.

— Joshua Wang, a tourist who fled the fires

The economic devastation, she said, has also been difficult, making her family’s future in the town uncertain. Prior to the fire, many family members from low-income households lived together to try to meet astronomical mortgage payments, Phillips said. With everything reduced to ash, she said she fears that families who want to rebuild will face an uphill battle, particularly as many job prospects in the area dwindle, and that many will not receive sufficient financial support. 

A tourist family with elite airline status gets out of Lahaina 

Joshua Wang had been visiting from New Jersey with his kids, his in-laws and his 3-year-old nephew before the fires blazed through Maui. After visiting the east side of the island, they discovered the roads back to their hotel were closed, forcing the family to sleep in their two cars. They woke up to devastation worse than they could have imagined, he said. 

Using a high-status membership with United Airlines, they booked a flight for that same afternoon, and Wang sent his nephew, sister-in-law, mother-in-law and two kids home. 

United Airlines confirmed to NBC News that MileagePlus members are given priority on standby flights.  

Wang, his brother-in-law, his wife and his father-in-law stayed to try to retrieve their valuables and medications from the hotel — which they were able to do the next day. 

On Thursday, Wang and his family went back to the checkpoint and told a police officer they were resort guests who had valuables in their room. 

Joshua Wang, third from right, and his family on their vacation in Maui before the fires.

 “The officers explained … that there is a special list for people staying at the resorts that have extreme valuables or hard-to-find medication,” he said. Police gave them a number to call, and after a few hours of waiting, Wang and his family were let through onto Lahaina Bypass with the condition that they would be back in two hours, he said. 

The Maui Police Department did not respond to NBC News’ request for comment on the checkpoint procedure, but a news release on its website from that same day said all unauthorized travel into Lahaina was prohibited.  

Two days later, on Saturday, another news release announced partial access into West Maui. It wasn’t until Tuesday that the road to Lahaina was fully open. 

In the days afterward, Cabrera said, when Lahaina families attempted to return to their homes, assess what was left of their belongings and document the damage, he saw tourists clog up the roads to take pictures of the wreckage. 

“While the community’s trying to get goods in, they’re stopping on the bypass taking pictures, taking selfies and messing things up,” he said. 

Phillips said she’s encountered many empathetic tourists in the past few days, but there have also been those who have ignored the community’s loss.  

“I think the biggest worry was when we have bodies in that ocean that still had not been discovered, and for us to see them snorkeling when we still haven’t retrieved all our dead — that was hard,” Phillips said through tears.

Meanwhile, a homeless shelter evacuates and relocates 200 people

Monique Ibarra, whose organization’s Lahaina shelter was lost in the fire, said a lack of funding and resources has long plagued the town’s Native Hawaiian community. 

While Native Hawaiians make up roughly 10% of the Lahaina community, one-third of the organization’s resident population is Native Hawaiian. During the evacuation, staff scrambled to pack tenants into vehicles and get out of the area. She said while the first challenge was ensuring that all evacuated to safety, the next was securing shelter for some 200 Lahaina tenants. Staff fixed up units in an affordable rental complex and made space at their Wailuku location, she said. 

“We had units that weren’t even ready for people to move in,” she said. “So we had staff and we had tenants in a unit trying to clean it up and get it so people could stay there. It was just really amazing.”

Ibarra said, however, that days later she was tasked with breaking the news that the Lahaina shelter hadn’t survived the fires. 

“They were just crying. They were just so devastated,” she said. “It’s just a horrific loss in their life for people that already hardly have anything.” 

Tourism is a large part of the local economy — but can exacerbate disaster situations

In any disaster situation, more people mean more complications, said Jerry Agrusa, a professor of travel industry management at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Especially in Maui, a small island with a few main roads, travelers’ confusion and panic can easily cause chaos. 

When our people are no longer able to get into their homes they have passed down from generation to generation, then you have lost Lahaina forever.

— Pakalana Phillips

“First of all, they don’t know where to go, even if it’s not a disaster,” he said. “Imagine when there’s a disaster or crisis.”

Maui receives hundreds of thousands of tourists a month, Agrusa said, and they tend to stay longer than on other islands. Lahaina gets particularly congested, with one way in and out, he said.

When there are tourists on the island, the hospitality industry has to meet them, he said. Hotel staff have to stay on the job, sometimes at the expense of their own needs. 

“Even though they’re worried and concerned about their own family, they’re going to take care of the guests,” he said. “Now, how do you take care of the guests when there’s a fire like this? It’s unprecedented. So you just try your best to try to keep them safe.”

It’s only been a week since the disaster, Agrusa said, but he foresees it affecting livelihoods across the island. And eventually, he said, people will want their lives to go back to normal. 

Even in areas of Maui not affected by the fires, a dearth of tourism will cause locals to lose jobs, he said. But as the island feels the fresh wounds of the disaster and search-and-rescue efforts continue, he advises travelers to pick another place to go, even within Hawaii. 

hawaii tourist killed

“Do we want you to go to Maui as a tourist? Yes, but not now,” he said. “There are already too many people needing support.”

Wang reflected on the tensions he had seen between tourists and locals at the roadblocks and said he feels for those who couldn’t get out so easily. 

“The islanders, of course, are looking to get back to their homes to see if their pets are alive, to see if their house has completely burned down,” he said. “We were looking to go back just to get some stuff.” 

Phillips said that while the fire marked the first tragedy that the community has had to face, the loss will be compounded if Native Hawaiians, who have lived there for generations, are not prioritized. 

“The people are what made that place so special. It’s not the palm trees. It’s not the beaches,” she said. “When our people are no longer able to get into their homes they have passed down from generation to generation, then you have lost Lahaina forever.”

Kimmy Yam is a reporter for NBC Asian America.

Sakshi Venkatraman is a reporter for NBC Asian America.

Outsider

Tourist Dies After Falling 100-Feet Into Hawaii’s Active Kilauea Volcano

Tragically, a 75-year-old Hawaiian tourist recently died after falling 100-feet into an active volcano.

Early today, authorities found the body of an unidentified Hawaiian tourist. It’s been determined that the man fell 100-feet below the crater rim of a viewing area of the Kilauea volcano. Although he was attempting to get a better glimpse of the landmark, he ended up falling to the bottom. After park rangers and Hawaii County firefighters searched in the dark for the man, he was found unresponsive.

Even though this is Hawaii’s most active volcano, tourists visit at night in hopes of seeing the glowing lava lake from an eruption of the giant mass.

The Hilo resident disappeared on Sunday night at the popular Hawaii Volcanoes National Park late Sunday night. After not being able to contact him, his family reported him missing on Monday.

The National Park Service made a statement. “After searching for the man in the darkness, National Park Service rangers and Hawai’i County firefighters located the man’s body about 100 feet below the crater rim, west of the Uekahuna viewing area at the summit of Kilauea volcano. Park rangers, assisted by helicopter, recovered the body around 8 am.”

However, this is not the first time someone has fallen into the crater. In 2019, a 32-year-old man fell 70 feet into Kilauea after stepping over the railing. After three hours, rangers and firefighters rescued him.

In 2017, a 38-year-old man tragically died at Kilauea after taking his own life.

“Visitors should never cross safety barriers, especially around dangerous and destabilized cliff edges. Crossing safety barriers and entering closed areas can result in serious injuries and death,” said Chief Ranger John Broward said back in 2017.

We give our deepest condolences to the family and also hope they get the answers they need.

Kilauea Volcano Erupts in Beautifully Frightening Photos

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Explore Hawaii Farms & Markets (@hawaiifarmtrails)

Back in September 2021, photos were captured of Hawaii’s most active volcano .

The New York Post reported that the U.S. Geological Survey detected an eruption at the top of the Halemaumau crater. The eruption destroyed over 700 homes and forced thousands of people to evacuate. It was the first major eruption in the landmark since 2018.

ABC News reported that although this eruption lasted for four months, the volcano spewed enough lava to fill 320,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Hardened lava from that eruption now covers an area of land half the size of Manhattan. Although this occurred nowhere near New York, that fact doesn’t make Manhattan sound like as fun.

“All signs indicate that it will stay within the crater.” Ken Hon, a USGS scientist, told the New York Post. “We’re not seeing any indications that lava is moving into the lower part of the east rift zone where people live. Currently, all the activity is within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Maui’s tourists mean well. But they’re traumatizing locals by asking about the devastating wildfire: ‘Unless you’re a therapist, I don’t want to talk to you about it’

The aftermath of Maui's wildfire.

The restaurant where Katie Austin was a server burned in  the wildfire  that devastated Hawaii’s historic town of Lahaina this summer.

Two months later, as travelers began to trickle back to nearby beach resorts, she went to work at a different eatery. But she soon quit, worn down by constant questions from diners: Was she affected by the fire? Did she know anyone who died?

“You’re at work for eight hours and every 15 minutes you have a new stranger ask you about the most traumatic day of your life,” Austin said. “It was soul-sucking.”

Hawaii’s governor and mayor invited tourists back to the  west side  of Maui months after the Aug. 8 fire killed at least 100 people and destroyed more than 2,000 buildings. They wanted the economic boost tourists would bring, particularly heading into the year-end holidays.

But some residents are struggling with the return of an industry requiring workers to be attentive and hospitable even though they are trying to care for themselves after losing their loved ones, friends, homes and community.

Maui is a large island. Many parts, like the ritzy resorts in Wailea, 30 miles (48 kilometers) south of Lahaina — where the first season of the HBO hit “The White Lotus” was filmed — are eagerly  welcoming travelers and their dollars .

Things are more complicated in west Maui. Lahaina is still a mess of charred rubble. Efforts to clean up toxic debris are  painstakingly slow . It’s off-limits to everyone except residents.

Tensions are peaking over the lack of long-term, affordable housing for wildfire evacuees, many of whom work in tourism. Dozens have been camping out in protest around the clock on a popular tourist beach at Kaanapali, a few miles north of Lahaina. Last week, hundreds marched between two large hotels waving signs reading, “We need housing now!” and “Short-term rentals gotta go!”

Hotels at Kaanapali are still housing  about 6,000 fire evacuees  unable to find long-term shelter in Maui’s  tight and expensive  housing market. But some have started to bring back tourists, and owners of timeshare condos have returned. At a shopping mall, visitors stroll past shops and dine at at open-air oceanfront restaurants.

Austin took a job at a restaurant in Kaanapali after the fire, but quit after five weeks. It was a strain to serve mai tais to people staying in a hotel or vacation rental while her friends were leaving the island because they lacked housing, she said.

Servers and many others in the tourism industry often work for tips, which puts them in a difficult position when a customer prods them with questions they don’t want to answer. Even after Austin’s restaurant posted a sign asking customers to respect employees’ privacy, the queries continued.

“I started telling people, ‘Unless you’re a therapist, I don’t want to talk to you about it,’” she said.

Austin now plans to work for a nonprofit organization that advocates for housing.

Erin Kelley didn’t lose her home or workplace but has been laid off as a bartender at Sheraton Maui Resort since the fire. The hotel reopened to visitors in late December, but she doesn’t expect to get called back to work until business picks up.

She has mixed feelings. Workers should have a place to live before tourists are welcome in west Maui, she said, but residents are so dependent on the industry that many will remain jobless without those same visitors.

“I’m really sad for friends and empathetic towards their situation,” she said. “But we also need to make money,”

When she does return to work, Kelley said she won’t want to “talk about anything that happened for the past few months.”

More travel destinations will likely have to navigate these dilemmas as climate change increases the frequency and intensity of natural disasters.

There is no manual for doing so, said Chekitan Dev, a tourism professor at Cornell University. Handling disasters — natural and manmade — will have to be part of their business planning.

Andreas Neef, a development professor and tourism researcher at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, suggested one solution might be to promote organized “voluntourism.” Instead of sunbathing, tourists could visit part of west Maui that didn’t burn and enlist in an effort to help the community.

“Bringing tourists for relaxation back is just at this time a little bit unrealistic,” Neef said. “I couldn’t imagine relaxing in a place where you still feel the trauma that has affected the place overall.”

Many travelers have been canceling holiday trips to Maui out of respect, said Lisa Paulson, the executive director of the Maui Hotel and Lodging Association. Visitation is down about 20% from December of 2022, according to  state data .

Cancellations are affecting hotels all over the island, not just in west Maui.

Paulson attributes some of this to confusing messages in national and social media about whether visitors should come. Many people don’t understand the island’s geography or that there are places people can visit outside west Maui, she said.

One way visitors can help is to remember they’re traveling to a place that recently experienced significant trauma, said Amory Mowrey, the executive director of Maui Recovery, a mental health and substance abuse residential treatment center.

“Am I being driven by compassion and empathy or am I just here to take, take, take?” he said.

That’s the approach honeymooners Jordan and Carter Prechel of Phoenix adopted. They kept their reservations in Kihei, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of Lahaina, vowing to be respectful and to support local businesses.

“Don’t bombard them with questions,” Jordan said recently while eating an afternoon snack in Kaanapali with her husband. “Be conscious of what they’ve gone through.”

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Things to know about aid, lawsuits and tourism nearly a month after fire leveled a Hawaii community

FILE - A man views the aftermath of a wildfire in Lahaina, Hawaii, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023. Nearly a month after the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than a century killed scores of people, authorities on Maui are working their way through a list of the missing that has grown almost as quickly as names have been removed. Lawsuits are piling up in court over liability for the inferno, and businesses across the island are fretting about what the loss of tourism will mean for their futures. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

FILE - A man views the aftermath of a wildfire in Lahaina, Hawaii, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023. Nearly a month after the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than a century killed scores of people, authorities on Maui are working their way through a list of the missing that has grown almost as quickly as names have been removed. Lawsuits are piling up in court over liability for the inferno, and businesses across the island are fretting about what the loss of tourism will mean for their futures. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

FILE - The hall of historic Waiola Church in Lahaina and nearby Lahaina Hongwanji Mission are engulfed in flames along Wainee Street, Aug. 8, 2023, in Lahaina, Hawaii. Nearly a month after the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than a century killed scores of people, authorities on Maui are working their way through a list of the missing that has grown almost as quickly as names have been removed. Lawsuits are piling up in court over liability for the inferno, and businesses across the island are fretting about what the loss of tourism will mean for their futures. (Matthew Thayer/The Maui News via AP, File)

FILE - A girl rides her bike past a sign that says “Tourist Keep Out,” in Lahaina, Hawaii, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2023. Nearly a month after the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than a century killed scores of people, authorities on Maui are working their way through a list of the missing that has grown almost as quickly as names have been removed. Lawsuits are piling up in court over liability for the inferno, and businesses across the island are fretting about what the loss of tourism will mean for their futures. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

FILE - A missing person flyer for Joseph “Lomsey” Lara is posted on the door of a business in a shopping mall in Lahaina, Hawaii, Monday, Aug. 21, 2023, following wildfires that devastated parts of the Hawaiian island of Maui earlier in the month. Nearly a month after the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than a century killed scores of people, authorities on Maui are working their way through a list of the missing that has grown almost as quickly as names have been removed. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

FILE - Crosses honoring victims killed in a recent wildfire are posted along the Lahaina Bypass in Lahaina, Hawaii, Aug. 21, 2023. Nearly a month after the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than a century killed scores of people, authorities on Maui are working their way through a list of the missing that has grown almost as quickly as names have been removed. Lawsuits are piling up in court over liability for the inferno, and businesses across the island are fretting about what the loss of tourism will mean for their futures. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

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HONOLULU (AP) — Nearly a month after the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than a century killed at least 115 people, authorities on Maui are working their way through a list of the missing that has grown almost as quickly as names have been removed .

Lawsuits are piling up in court over liability for the inferno, and businesses across the island are fretting about the loss of tourism.

Government officials from Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen to President Joe Biden have pledged support , and thousands of people have been put up in hotels and elsewhere as they await clearance to visit and inspect the properties where they once lived.

A look at things to know about how the recovery in Lahaina is taking shape following the Aug. 8 disaster:

HOW MANY PEOPLE DIED?

FILE - Electric crews work on power lines in the aftermath of a devastating wildfire in Lahaina, Hawaii, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2023. Lawyers for Lahaina residents and business owners told a court Tuesday, Sept. 5, that cable TV and telephone companies share in responsibility for the wildfires that devastated the island. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

The official confirmed count stands at 115 , a figure that has not changed since Aug. 21. But many more names remain on a list of people who are considered unaccounted for, and it is unclear whether the toll of the deceased will rise — or whether it will ever be known how many perished.

Maui County Police Chief John Pelletier has repeatedly pleaded for patience as authorities try to verify who is missing, who has been accounted for and who has died.

Officials have also sometimes clouded the situation. Police on Aug. 24 released a “credible” list, compiled by the FBI, of 388 missing people for whom authorities had a first and last name and a contact number for whoever reported them missing.

Many of them, or their relatives, came forward to say they were safe , resulting in the removal of 245 names on Friday. Some others are known to have died in the fire, but their remains have not yet been identified.

Gov. Josh Green had said the number of missing would drop to double digits with Friday’s update, but when police released it, there were 263 newly added names, for a new total of 385.

FILE - Crosses honoring victims killed in a recent wildfire are posted along the Lahaina Bypass in Lahaina, Hawaii, Aug. 21, 2023. Nearly a month after the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than a century killed scores of people, authorities on Maui are working their way through a list of the missing that has grown almost as quickly as names have been removed. Lawsuits are piling up in court over liability for the inferno, and businesses across the island are fretting about what the loss of tourism will mean for their futures. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

Crosses honoring victims killed in a recent wildfire are posted along the Lahaina Bypass in Lahaina, Hawaii. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

Over the weekend Green posted a video on X , formerly known as Twitter, seeking to clarify, saying, “The official number has been 385 ... but there are only 41 — 41 active investigations after people filed missing persons reports.”

WHO’S RESPONSIBLE?

Formal investigations will aim to determine the cause of the fire and review how officials handled it. But about a dozen lawsuits have already been filed blaming Hawaii Electric Company, the for-profit, investor-owned utility that serves 95% of the state’s electric customers.

Among the lawsuits is one by Maui County accusing the utility of negligently failing to shut off power despite exceptionally high winds and dry conditions.

Hawaii Electric has said in a statement that it is “very disappointed that Maui County chose this litigious path while the investigation is still unfolding.”

FILE - The hall of historic Waiola Church in Lahaina and nearby Lahaina Hongwanji Mission are engulfed in flames along Wainee Street, Aug. 8, 2023, in Lahaina, Hawaii. Nearly a month after the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than a century killed scores of people, authorities on Maui are working their way through a list of the missing that has grown almost as quickly as names have been removed. Lawsuits are piling up in court over liability for the inferno, and businesses across the island are fretting about what the loss of tourism will mean for their futures. (Matthew Thayer/The Maui News via AP, File)

The hall of historic Waiola Church in Lahaina and nearby Lahaina Hongwanji Mission are engulfed in flames along Wainee Street in Lahaina, Hawaii. (Matthew Thayer/The Maui News via AP, File)

Other lawsuits have come from residents who lost their homes. On Monday, the father of Rebecca Rans, a 57-year-old woman with rheumatoid arthritis who died while trying to escape the fire, sued Maui County, the state, Hawaiian Electric and the state’s largest landowner, Kamehameha Schools, a charitable trust formerly known as the Bishop Estate.

The lawsuit alleges that the county and the Bishop Estate failed to maintain their land by mowing or otherwise removing the dry, invasive grasses that have taken over former sugar and pineapple plantations in the region and which helped fuel the fires on Aug. 8.

“All the landowners knew how dangerous it was to have that huge volume of dry grass next to subdivisions, and could have saved hundreds of lives at a cost of less than $1,000 per acre to cut the brush down,” attorney James Bickerton said in a news release.

The Associated Press sent an email seeking comment to the county. The Department of the Attorney General said in a written statement that the state is reviewing the lawsuit, and Hawaiian Electric declined to comment in an email sent by spokesperson Darren Pai.

“Our hearts are with all affected by the Maui fires,” Kamehameha Schools said in a written statement. “We are committed to restoring our Native Hawaiian people and culture through education, which includes stewarding and uplifting the health and resiliency of our ’āina (lands) and Native communities. As many aspects of the fires are still under investigation, we have no further comment at this time.”

In another case, lawyers representing Lahaina residents and business owners claim that cable TV and phone companies overloaded and destabilized some utility poles , which snapped in high winds, helping cause the fire.

HOW IS THE GOVERNMENT HELPING PEOPLE?

Much of the immediate disaster relief aid has been organized by community members, such as a supply distribution center operating out of a Hawaiian homestead community in Lahaina where most of the homes survived.

Hawaii U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz said during remarks Tuesday on the Senate floor that federal support must continue.

“It’s our responsibility here in Congress to provide relief — in any way that we can, for as long as people need it,” he said.

As of Monday night, 5,852 people were staying at 24 hotels serving as temporary shelters around Maui, according to the county.

FILE - A missing person flyer for Joseph "Lomsey" Lara is posted on the door of a business in a shopping mall in Lahaina, Hawaii, Monday, Aug. 21, 2023, following wildfires that devastated parts of the Hawaiian island of Maui earlier in the month. Nearly a month after the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than a century killed scores of people, authorities on Maui are working their way through a list of the missing that has grown almost as quickly as names have been removed. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

A missing person flyer for Joseph “Lomsey” Lara is posted on the door of a business in a shopping mall in Lahaina, Hawaii, following wildfires that devastated parts of the Hawaiian island of Maui. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

At the hotels, they’re receiving American Red Cross services including meals, mental health support and financial assistance.

More than 1,000 Federal Emergency Management Agency personnel have been on Maui helping survivors, Schatz said.

FEMA will also need to complete “one of the most complex debris removal operations in its history,” he said, which may take as long as a year and cost up to a billion dollars.

Gov. Green said in a video on social media Monday that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has cleared more than 200 parcels.

“This is important because we can start getting people back to inspect their own land and get some closure soon,” he said.

FEMA has given up to $19.4 million of assistance, Green said.

Help is also coming from the rich and famous: Oprah Winfrey and Dwayne Johnson announced the creation of a $10 million fund to make direct payments to people on Maui who are unable to return to their homes.

SHOULD TOURISTS VISIT MAUI?

Officials said last week that the visitor traffic to the island has dropped 70% since Aug. 9, the day after Lahaina burned. Maui relies heavily on tourism for jobs, and the economy is reeling.

Lahaina’s restaurants and historic sites, once popular tourist draws, are now charred ruins. Large resort hotels farther up the west coast of Maui were spared but are now housing displaced residents.

Authorities are encouraging travelers to visit the island and support the economy, but ask that they avoid west Maui and instead stay in other areas like Kihei and Wailea.

Celebrities including Native Hawaiian actor Jason Momoa and Aerosmith singer and Maui homeowner Steven Tyler are also among those urging people to visit.

“Everything’s beautiful, except we gotta come there and make it more beautiful, OK?” Tyler said during a weekend concert in Philadelphia.

Johnson reported from Seattle.

hawaii tourist killed

Death In Paradise Is All Too Frequent For Visitors To Hawaii

Married 32 years, Jane and Bob Jones did a lot in life together. They raised a family, served those in need and traveled when they could.

They died together, too.

The Joneses drowned in Hawaii, on a vacation aimed at escaping wintry Washington state weather for sun and sand.

On a Friday last March, the couple decided to snorkel the azure waters of Hanauma Bay, a popular tourist destination a half-hour east of Honolulu. They were a few hundred yards from the beach in an area called Witches Brew. Witnesses said one of them got in trouble and the other tried to help. Lifeguards responded but it was too late.

Visitors enjoy posing photographs at Lanai Lookout as large surf from tropical storm Guillermo, pounds the shoreline cliffs. 6 aug 2015. photograph Cory Lum/Civil Beat

A longtime social worker, Jane, 55, coordinated free medical clinics and advocated for the homeless. Bob, 60, a retired Army captain, was a volunteer firefighter and worked for the Troops to Teachers program that helps military personnel start new careers.

“They were real ‘sparkplugs’ for the community, always looking for ways to serve the marginalized among us and working for justice,” David Ammons, a fellow parishioner at Westminster Presbyterian, told The Olympian newspaper . “Together, they made a real difference.”

The Joneses were not unlike others who have come to Hawaii for vacation, lured by the majesty and mystique conveyed by countless visitor publications, movies and magazines, songs and social media.

Bob and Jane Jones died together snorkeling at Hanauma Bay.

But like dozens of other visitors, the Joneses died in a manner that’s becoming all too familiar in the islands.

Drowning is by far the leading cause of death for tourists in Hawaii and snorkeling is the most common activity that leads to visitor drownings.

State health department records over the past decade show that Hawaii’s visitor-drowning rate is 13 times the national average and 10 times the rate of Hawaii residents.

Since July 2012, at least 147 visitors — nearly one a week on average — have died in Hawaii from injuries suffered while doing common tourist activities like swimming, snorkeling, hiking and going on scenic drives. 

Many also have sustained serious injuries, especially spinal cord damage.

The state, counties and tourism industry spend  millions of dollars on lifeguards, warning signs, informational websites, safety videos and other strategies to keep people safe.

But a Civil Beat review of tourist deaths over the last three and a half years suggests safety is far from the top concern when it comes to the 8 million visitors who travel to the islands every year.

Hawaii lacks clear and consistent safety messages to target visitors before they arrive. Even the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s main safety website contains broken links to online resources.

A sign warns visitors of the dangers at Queen's Bath on Kauai. Ocean safety experts worry that the state isn't doing enough to prevent visitor drownings.

Although many visitors now use social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and other online sites to plan vacations and find activities, government officials and tourism industry leaders have done little to develop a social media presence that promotes safety.

Experts say the key to injury prevention is getting that message in front of visitors as many times as possible — whether it’s through websites like Yelp! or in-flight videos and brochures in hotel rooms. 

Hanakapiai Beach on Kauai is one of the remote, unguarded beaches that now has rescue tubes.

Former lifeguards, emergency room physicians and other safety experts have for years lobbied state legislators and policymakers to prevent injuries and deaths by getting timely and useful information — current ocean conditions, the latest trail closures, general safety tips — disseminated as widely as possible.

But local and state officials have paid little attention to efforts to strengthen safety programs or test whether those that are in place are effective.

For instance, tourism officials have started playing videos at airports and car rental companies, putting more brochures in hotel rooms, passing out pamphlets and adding more warning signs. But it’s unclear whether tourists are paying attention.

Dr. Monty Downs, an emergency room physician and longtime ocean-safety advocate on Kauai, estimates that only a small number of people see the videos at baggage carousels — although there is evidence that at least one man’s life was saved as a result of information his son obtained from the airport video.

Downs has been focused instead on expanding statewide a rescue tube program that’s seen success on Kauai. The tubes have been in place at unguarded beaches around the Garden Isle for more than six years, and rescues using them are regularly reported.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority recently created a new in-flight safety video under a 2013 legislative mandate , but it’s not shown on any flights yet from the mainland or overseas and some consider it too soft on safety.

Two visitors take in the view of Hawaii Kai after hiking Koko Head.

Many in the industry now question whether the video was a waste of time and money given the historic lack of cooperation from airlines — and logistical challenges — to show safety messages. Plus, many passengers are simply not paying attention to the in-flight videos and entertainment because they are focused on their smart phone, tablet, book or magazine.

Commercial tour companies tout their own safety programs in an effort to convince tourists to snorkel, surf, kayak or rent various thrill craft with them. In general, experts say many of these companies give visitors a safe way to participate in an activity — often safer than on their own when there’s direct supervision.

But there’s no good way of knowing what companies are operating aboveboard and which ones are just trying to make a quick buck. The state only started requiring all operators to obtain a commercial permit in late 2014. And to avoid liability, the program leaves it up to the businesses to hire qualified, competent staff.

Meanwhile, nonprofits have been created whose focus is to help visitors cope with tragedies experienced while on vacation in Hawaii, whether it’s how to send a body to the mainland or arranging counseling to deal with an untimely death.

A lifeguard goes out to help a snorkeler in distress at Hanauma Bay.

These are the kinds of things that guidebooks don’t provide, online sites underplay and the tourism industry shies away from.

Yet, the Aloha State’s drowning rate for visitors is so much higher than the national average. Hawaii’s visitor drowning rate —  5.7 per 1 million visitor arrivals — dwarfs those in states like North Carolina and Florida, where drowning rates are .5 and .9 drownings per 1 million visitors, respectively.

Drowning has been the leading cause of fatal injuries for visitors for decades. From 2005 to 2014, 49 percent of visitors who died of injuries did so by drowning, compared to just 5 percent for locals, according to state Department of Health data.

It’s particularly significant on Kauai and Maui, where visitors comprise almost three-fourths of all fatal injuries. Experts say that is partly due to the stronger visitor presence on the neighbor islands compared to Oahu. On Maui, for instance, roughly one in four people on any given day is a tourist.

Clearly, experts say, Hawaii residents know something about staying safe in the ocean that tourists don’t, and that vital information is not reaching those who need it.

“There’s a Hawaii vacation mentality that, ‘I can do anything I want here because I’m in paradise,’” said Jessica Rich, president of the Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii. “They take risks here that they would never take at home.”

Some visitors increase their chance of a fatal accident by combining alcohol with a dip in unfamiliar waters or simply exercising poor judgment.

But many fail to understand the risk they are taking in the first place — inadequate trip preparation, bad decisions by tour guides or a lack of sufficient warning of inherent dangers.

Stupid people play near breaking waves as Hurrican Ignacio skirts north of the Hawaiian islands. 31 aug 2015. photograph Cory Lum/Civil Beat

In the last few years, the number of visitor deaths has increased, mirroring the state’s successful push to increase tourism especially from areas on the mainland and abroad that don’t have beaches or the kind of scenic ocean attractions found in Hawaii.

Visitor arrivals hit a new record in November with 661,352 people arriving in that month alone. Just over 43 percent came from the western United States, according to the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism . Japanese arrivals numbered 122,840 and there were 119,167 visitors from the eastern U.S.

With 2016 expected to be another record year for tourism, a new task force is exploring ways to improve ocean safety. In September, a committee of 12 key players from Hawaii’s various tourist and ocean safety agencies met for the first time. 

First-time visitors to Hanauma Bay are required to watch a safety video.

“We’ve done a really, really good job of branding Hawaii. We’ve done a really good job of marketing and getting people here,” said Jim Howe, a longtime ocean safety advocate who chairs the new Drowning and Aquatic Injury Prevention Advisory Committee.

“What I think is missing is that we oftentimes don’t tell people about some of the issues that they may face when they get here, and how to either avoid those, No. 1, or if they find themselves in those circumstances, what to do.”

So far, the committee has been working to come up with options to help raise public awareness, both before tourists arrive and once they get here. Some of those ideas include more meaningful and engaging in-flight videos and partnering with online review sites. The committee also is looking at identifying beaches that might need more lifeguards or better warning signs.

“Social media and the Internet are the key players in this game right now,” said Howe, who recently retired from his job as Honolulu’s chief of ocean safety operations. “They’re not going on guided tours, but they need that information.”

As more visitors opt for alternative accommodations through Airbnb and vacation rentals, they’re even less likely to book tourist activities through hotels that might recommend tour guides who offer safe excursions.

Instead, those visitors are planning their itineraries through sites like Yelp! or TripAdvisor. But those websites don’t provide the same safety advice that a tour guide might when visiting dangerous locations like Halona Blowhole or Spitting Caves on Oahu.

hawaii tourist killed

“Many visitors are basically like our toddlers in terms of their understanding of what’s going on at the beach and in the ocean,” Howe said. “This may be a 37-year-old adult, but if you look at their beach IQ, they’re about a 2-year-old.”

That’s part of why every week on average, somewhere in Hawaii, a tourist dies while involved in what should be common — and safe — activities.

Most tourists who die get at least a short write-up in the local paper or a news website.

It was the frequency of those stories that caught our attention a few years ago. It’s not the kind of story you see with such alarming regularity anywhere else in the country, even in big tourist markets like California or Florida, or rugged adventure travel areas like Alaska.

Visitors enjoy the beach fronting the Sheraton Waikiki despite 'Beach Closed' signs posted along Waikiki Beach after 500,000 gallons of sewage leaked into the area after tropical storm 'Kilo' rolled thru on monday. 25 aug 2015. photograph Cory Lum/Civil Beat

The stories, along with autopsy reports and other official records, formed the basis for a database that allowed us to analyze visitor deaths in a comprehensive and compelling manner. Our staff visited some of the sites that, the data shows, pose the greatest risk for out-of-state visitors. They interviewed numerous ocean safety experts, state and local officials who track visitor deaths, and people who work for the nonprofit organizations that help when tragedy strikes. They tracked down family members who lost loved ones here in the islands.

We created  a database of 147 tourist deaths over the past four years, compiled from media reports we’ve been saving since July 2012 along with autopsies from the Honolulu medical examiner. Neighbor island medical examiners said they couldn’t provide similar reports. 

We also relied on a Hawaii Department of Health report  for this series, showing non-resident deaths over the past decade.

The data, including the state’s records, are consistent: When visitors die from injuries, the vast majority die by drowning. And of the ocean activities they were doing at the time, snorkeling was No. 1.

Eternity Beach at Halona Blowhole is a popular secluded spot.

In the past four years, people were swept out to sea while climbing on rocks near the shoreline, some perished in car or moped accidents, and several died while hiking.

A significant number of tourists who died were males in their 50s or 60s, some, as it turned out, with underlying heart conditions. 

“We’d really like to say, ‘Hey, exercise a few months before,’” said Jeff Murray, chief of the Maui County Fire Department. “People should understand their limits, number one, and ask questions.”

Two folks after being warned by lifeguards about large waves and shorebreak get inundated by a set while not watching the waves at Sandy Beach. 9 july 2015. photograph Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Hawaii’s unique ocean conditions can look deceptively mild to visitors. Experts say the physical characteristics found only in the Hawaiian Islands — the way the surf pounds and currents rip — often surprise visitors who were expecting the glassy waters seen on many postcards.

The state and counties put up signs warning of unsafe conditions — for instance, high surf or strong shore breaks — but mostly just at public beach parks. These signs are often ignored, and ocean safety experts say they don’t go far enough to deter visitors from going into the water on dangerous days.

Todd Duitsman, center, was paralyzed at Makena State Park on Maui.

Todd Duitsman was paralyzed from the neck down while on a family vacation to Maui in July 2014. He said he saw the signs warning of the shore break — before diving head-first into the sand.

“T here’s a certain personality where it doesn’t matter how many signs you put up, I’m still going to frolic in the ocean ,” he told Civil Beat.

Guided tours also don’t guarantee safety.

Tyler Madoff, a 15-year-old star athlete and honor student from New York, drowned during a kayaking trip on the Big Island in July 2012.

He was on a guided tour with a dozen other teens from across the country. At lunch, the guides led them down a trail to see tide pools and “the real Hawaii.” A rogue wave rushed over the rocky coastline and pulled Tyler out to sea. His body was never recovered.

Other visitors get into trouble on their own.

Cheryl Black, 55, was a financial manager at an auto dealership in Texas. She was hiking at Oheo Gulch on Maui in June 2014 when she fell 15 feet off a ledge.  Firefighters found bystanders giving the woman CPR while she lay unconscious, halfway in the water.

The gulch, also called Seven Sacred Falls , is promoted as a must-see spot on a trip to the Valley Isle.

Oheo Gulch, commonly called Seven Sacred Falls, is promoted as a must-visit attraction on Maui.

Cheryl left behind a husband and two sons. Friends and family penned heartfelt memorials, calling her a “warm and wonderful woman” who was “loved by all that knew her.”

Dan Galanis, the state epidemiologist who has spent the past two decades analyzing injury data and prevention techniques, said the advisory committee’s formation marks the first time people from around the state have been convened on this issue in a sustained manner.

“I don’t think it’s going to magically solve the problem overnight, but it’s definitely the first needed steps for bringing a coordinated approach to this problem statewide,” he said.

Safety advocates say the balance between promoting Hawaii to visitors and protecting them has tilted too far in favor of the tourism industry over the past few decades, but there’s optimism that it can be leveled.

“There really is a sea change of attitude and kind of perspective that we feel is really timely right now,” said Bridget Velasco, the state  drowning and spinal cord injury prevention coordinator.

Scores of visitors enjoy large surf from tropical storm Guillermo at Halona Blow Hole lookout. Surf was consistent as the tropical storm moves in a northwesterly direction skirting away from the Hawaiian islands. 6 aug 2015. photograph Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Her position was created in the past year, and she’s responsible for pulling together the advisory committee over the past six months. Velasco said solid evidence — and the data — will steer the committee.

“ Hawaii Tourism Authority has said we realize we are bringing people here and we need to keep them safe, and that’s part of their mission now,” she said. “Being able to partner with them is huge.”

Jadie Goo’s main responsibilities for the Hawaii Tourism Authority are safety  programs, the China and Taiwan markets, and workforce development. She said keeping visitors safe is a collaborative and collective effort.

Just from a budget point of view, HTA is mandated to allocate a certain percentage to safety programs. For fiscal 2016, the agency budgeted $680,000, which is $270,000 more than required.

“The key word is balance,” Goo said. “We want to develop consistent, strong messages to inform visitors. But we don’t want to scare them away.”

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A middle-aged Native Hawaiian man in a short-sleeved shirt and beaded necklace looks toward the setting sun, on hand resting on the metal grate of a second-floor balcony, beyond which is a rolling green lawn and, further away, conifers.

Survivors of deadly Maui blaze face displacement after displacement: ‘I live a nomadic life’

Four months after the deadliest US wildfire in modern history, thousands of people have yet to find stable housing

W hen Charles Nahale checked into a one-bedroom time-share condo in Kapalua Bay, a tourist mainstay on Maui’s north-west coast, in mid-October, front desk staff told him he would only be staying for 12 days. Nahale, a Native Hawaiian musician who had lost his west Maui home in the ferocious wildfire of 8 August, wasn’t surprised by the blunt notice: he’d been bouncing from hotel to hotel, often at a moment’s notice, under a sheltering program run by the Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

After the move, Nahale turned his pickup truck into a storage unit – part closet and part pantry – filled with boxes of clothes and nonperishable food. He brought only toiletries and essentials into the hotel suite. When he was hungry, he went to the truck to grab a can of tuna. A ukulele, a guitar and a set of work clothes were the only possession he was able to save from the fire. “I live a nomadic life,” said Nahale, who’s in his 60s. “What’s the point of unpacking if I’m moving again after 12 days?”

The deadliest US wildfire in more than a century – which incinerated the historic town of Lahaina, killed 100 people and destroyed 3% of Maui’s residential housing stock – pushed the island’s longstanding affordable housing crisis to a new inflection point. More than 10,000 survivors lost their homes, and, four months later, 6,300 remain sheltered at 33 hotels contracted with the Red Cross and Fema. For the thousands of evacuees who have been shuffling around, the haphazard way in which the program is managed, along with the return of tourists to the fire-ravaged region in October, have carried dire social consequences: residents share concerns of rising suicide rates, and monthly calls to the county domestic violence hotline have more than doubled since the disaster.

F or the first two months after the fire, Kanani Lukela stayed at a two-bedroom unit at the Sands of Kahana Resort, north of Lahaina, with five family members and two emotional support dogs. The temporary space, where she thought she’d be staying for at least half a year, provided the stability for her to begin regrouping after the fire destroyed her home.

But on 17 October, just over a week after west Maui reopened to tourism, the resort informed Lukela that her family would be relocated the next day to a different hotel 40 minutes away, that had no kitchen for her to cook in for her teenage children. The move also meant that she had to find a new home for the dogs because the property didn’t allow pets. The shock and stress of being displaced yet again pushed her to the brink of a breakdown, she said.

A flat landscape showing burned trees and burned-out cars under an oddly beautiful and serene blue sky with a few puffy white clouds on the horizon.

Lukela felt certain that the resort wanted to make more room for visitors. She said she harbored no resentment toward them but felt the resort could easily have put tourists in a different room rather than completely moving out families who had lost everything. “The relocation tore my heart because the outside world doesn’t realize what we’re facing,” she said. “This was supposed to be a safe haven.”

In recent weeks, hundreds of survivors were forced to relocate as several hotels ended their contracts with the Red Cross. The precarious housing situation that residents like Lukela and Nahale find themselves in has spurred legal action and protests. In October, Nahale filed a complaint with the Hawaii civil rights commission for what he perceived to be the hotels’ preferential treatment for tourists. “It’s the claim that we’re being displaced for tourists, and that’s discrimination,” he said, adding that his family has lived in Maui for generations.

The Red Cross said that over the past month, more than 100 households have transitioned into interim long-term housing through the organization’s efforts with federal, state, county and non-profit partners on an array of housing solutions, including tax incentives, Fema direct leasing and philanthropic acquisition of rental properties.

“We do our best to communicate all changes and expectations with survivors in advance of necessary moves to ensure the least amount of disruption to people’s lives,” Stephanie Fox, the media relations lead for the American Red Cross, said in an email statement. “Our current protocol is to alert residents two weeks in advance of a hotel contract deadline.”

On Halloween, the eve of Nahale’s move-out date, a hotel manager informed him that he could stay until 15 December. The news brought little reprieve. “It’s hard to be in the spirit of giving, the spirit of the holidays, when you have nothing,” he said.

A close-up of two hands playing a glossy brown ukulele.

The return of visitors and the threat of continued displacement, he said, was a slap in the face to people who haven’t had the chance to fully process and heal from their trauma. For nearly a month, more than two dozen community organizers with the Lahaina Strong collective have camped out at Kāʻanapali Beach, staging a fishing demonstration to call for interim long-term housing.

With few long-term housing solutions in sight, island residents are looking for other solutions.

The most efficient way to house fire survivors is by targeting short-term rentals and Airbnbs, said Matt Jachowski, a Native Hawaiian software developer who built the website Maui Hale Match , which matches displaced families with landlords and homeowners. The more than 12,000 short-term rentals in west and south Maui can easily house all evacuees, and many are currently unoccupied, according to Jachowski’s analysis of current property tax data .

By contrast, he said, only around 3,100 units on the island are under year-long leases. “There are nowhere near enough long-term rentals to house everybody,” even if they’re all empty, he said.

Since Jachowski’s website launched in early October, it’s received more than 900 housing requests but yielded fewer than 100 matches. One reason for the mismatch is that market rents have soared since the fire: the monthly rates for one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments are between $600 and $1,500 higher than what fire survivors can afford to pay, according to Jachowski’s analysis of real estate listings. “Landlords are offering rents that only affluent transplants or tourists can afford,” Jachowski said. “The money is stopping this process of housing these people who have lost their homes and jobs and are still paying mortgages.”

T he Hawaii governor, Josh Green, said his administration was working on converting 3,000 short-term rentals into long-term housing for displaced residents. The state and federal governments, through Fema, will incentivize homeowners to issue two-year leases by paying them the same rental income they earned the previous year, he said. If he can’t get enough homeowners on board, Green said, he was prepared to issue a moratorium on short-term rentals. “I absolutely understand people’s concerns and fears,” Green said. “We’re not going to let people become homeless.”

While he sympathizes with survivors who found the return of tourists disruptive to their healing, Green said he had a responsibility to rehabilitate the economy for the many employees in the hospitality industry who needed to return to work. “It breaks my heart that we have to continue to move forward and can’t pause for two to three years. We have to keep our economy alive or we won’t have resources to pay for long-term rentals or schools or hospitals,” Green said.

Officials estimated that it may be two years before Lahaina locals can begin to rebuild their homes. In the meantime, many still have to pay mortgages, since home loans on burned-down houses haven’t been forgiven.

Brandon Fujiwara, a sous-chef at the Old Lahaina Luau, lost his half-century-old family home in the fire. Currently he’s staying at Honua Kai Resort, a sprawling resort in Kāʻanapali, north of Lahaina, with emerald lawns and multiple pools, with his wife, mother, brother-in-law and two children. He’s hoping the government will provide monetary support for mortgage or rent payments over the next couple years, he said, as west Maui rentals that are big enough for his family of six are far too expensive. After weeks of searching, he’s lined up a three-bedroom unit in Kīhei, a city more than 20 miles south of Lahaina. The rent will cost him upwards of $90,000 a year.

“There’s just no way I can afford all that for the next three years,” Fujiwara said.

Due to escalating housing costs in Lahaina in recent decades, it wasn’t unusual for multiple families and dozens of people to live together, ohana style. On the decimated Front Street, the town’s main thoroughfare where beloved cultural institutions flanked mid-century homes, many households added accessory dwelling units (ADUs) to their main buildings to accommodate every resident.

Ester Dumayas, a Filipino immigrant who works at the Royal Lahaina Resort, lived in a nine-bedroom, two-story house near Lahainaluna Road in Lahaina with 23 family members, including her five sisters and all of their children. Shortly after immigrating from the Philippines, Dumayas and her sisters all worked two jobs, pooled their resources and bought the property in 1998.

Since the fire burned down their home, they’ve been sheltering in five separate hotel rooms by Kāʻanapali Beach. Dumayas, 62, said she wasn’t sure the family could afford to build the same type of home under current building restrictions and construction costs.

“But we’ve got 20 years of memories in that house,” she said. “That’s why my children said we have to rebuild no matter what.”

Rays from the setting sun illuminate an unlighted hotel room, in the center of which stands a middle-aged man with his long hair pulled into a bun at the back of his head.

Meanwhile, the thousands of Lahaina residents who lost their homes and jobs during the fire are relying on community support to fulfill their most basic needs.

Uilani Kapu runs an aid-distribution hub by Kāʻanapali Beach with family, providing children’s clothing, food, water and medications to evacuees sheltered at nearby resorts. The five major community-led hubs in west Maui serve more than 12,000 individuals daily, Kapu said. In October, she noticed that more people had been requesting tents, sleeping bags and stoves – a sign that some survivors had become homeless. (About 200 wildfire survivors who had been unhoused before the fire, and a similar number of undocumented immigrants, were deemed ineligible for the Red Cross non-congregate shelter program.)

An untiring sense of generosity and resourcefulness was baked into Hawaiians’ DNA, Kapu said.

“Our grandparents grew up together. We grew up together. Our children and grandchildren are growing up together,” she said. “We’re so spirited because we have one another’s support forever.”

This is part of a series on the aftermath of the Maui wildfires. Read the first story , on the mental health crisis unfolding among Maui’s children .

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Way Too Many Tourists Are Dying In Hawaii

Chloe Fox

Editor, HuffPost Hawaii

An Australian man drowned in Hawaii on Thursday, the state's third tourist death in as many days , highlighting an ongoing safety issue in the islands.

On average, nearly one tourist dies a week in Hawaii , according to a special report by Honolulu Civil Beat, typically while engaged in common vacation activities such as swimming, snorkeling and hiking. Many more suffer serious injuries, including spinal cord damage.

Critics say the state doesn't do enough to warn its 8 million annual visitors of inherent dangers, especially those involving water. All three of this week's deaths appear to be water-related.

hawaii tourist killed

On Tuesday, a 27-year-old visitor from Japan died while scuba diving off the island of Oahu. Tatsumi Umemura became unresponsive in the water , an Emergency Medical Services spokeswoman told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. The cause of death hadn't been determined.

A Chinese tourist, 21-year-old Mei Jun Huang, was pronounced dead Tuesday after sustaining injuries on a waterfall hike in Maui . She was reportedly found by fellow hikers submerged in the waterfall's pond, according to Maui Now.

A 70-year-old Australian snorkeling off Anini Beach on Kauai on Thursday was found floating face-down 20 feet from the shoreline. The victim's identity wasn't released.

Hawaii's rate of drownings per visitor (5.7 per 1 million visitors) is 13 times the national average , according to Civil Beat, and 10 times the drowning rate for Hawaii residents. It dwarfs the visitor-drowning rate of other beach states, including Florida, where there are 0.9 drownings per 1 million visitors.

While some vacationers make bad decisions, like mixing alcohol with water sports, others seem dangerously unaware of the risks.

“There’s a Hawaii vacation mentality that, ‘ I can do anything I want here because I’m in paradise ,’” Jessica Rich, president of the Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii, told Civil Beat. “They take risks here that they would never take at home.”

The state says it's in the tricky position of preparing and educating visitors while protecting tourism, the state's largest industry.

“The key word is balance,” Jadie Goo, of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, told Civil Beat. “We want to develop consistent, strong messages to inform visitors. But we don’t want to scare them away.”

With visitor arrivals hitting record numbers in Hawaii , let's hope they figure out that balance soon.

For more on this issue, check out Honolulu Civil Beat's special report, "Dying For Vacation."

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Section » Hawaii

Hapuna hawaii: man bitten on arm by shark.

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Hawaii: Kayak fisherman killed in shark attack

NBC News reports that a man fishing from a kayak in Hawaii was attacked by a shark off the coast of Maui on Monday and died of his injuries as he was being brought to shore, marking the second fatal shark attack in the area this year, officials said. The man had been kayak fishing […]

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American remains missing after intentionally going overboard on cruise ship

CNN reports that an American cruise ship passenger was reported overboard Wednesday, and the U.S. Coast Guard joined the search in the Pacific Ocean northeast of Hawaii. The 54-year-old woman was witnessed intentionally going overboard from the Grand Princess, Princess Cruises said, adding that the witness’ account was confirmed by closed-circuit television. The Grand Princess […]

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Hawaii: Search for missing hiker in Haleakala Crater continues

As reported by Mauinews.com, the search for Richard Scheidman, 67, of Lahaina, who had gone hiking in Haleakala Crater on Wednesday afternoon, was suspended Thursday afternoon with the search to pick up this morning, Haleakala National Park, officials said. Read article

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Hawaii: Several beaches near Honolulu closed after spill contaminates water

Travelbite.co.uk reports that several beaches in the Keehi Lagoon area of Honolulu, Hawaii, have been closed after a treacle spill has contaminated the water, killing a significant amount of marine life. The spill occurred early Monday morning, when a Matson ship was loaded with 1,600 tons of molasses (treacle) for shipping to the West Coast […]

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Hawaii: Tourist from California arrested for abusing his girlfriend

According to mauinews.com, California tourist was given jail time Monday after nearly a dozen abuse-related charges against his girlfriend last week, police said. Read article

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Shark bites teen surfer’s leg in Pohoiki Bay in Hawaii

As reported by Reuters.com, the 16-year-old, identified to Hawaii News Now by relatives as Jimmy ‘Ulu Boy’ Napeahi, was surfing in Pohoiki Bay in an area known as ‘Dead Trees’ at around 1.30pm Sunday when he was attacked from behind by a shark. The predator has been described as being gray-colored and measuring 8 feet […]

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German tourist dies during strenous hike in Hawaii

According to seattlepi.com, a German tourist died while hiking the strenuous Kalalau Trail on the north shore of Kauai. The death of the 61-year-old on Friday was near the eight-mile marker of the 11-mile-long trail that stretches from Ke’e Beach to the Kalalau Valley. The Garden Island newspaper reports (http://bit.ly/17VXmMB ) that the man was […]

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Hawaii: German tourist loses her arm in apparent shark attack

NBC News reports that a German tourist lost her arm in what appears to have been a shark attack off a Hawaiian beach on Wednesday, Maui County spokesman Rod Antone told the Honolulu Star Advertiser. The woman was with two friends before the apparent attack, according to the paper, and was taken to Maui Memorial […]

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Hawaii: California woman injured in shark attack in Maui

According to examiner.com, a California woman was attacked by what appears to be a massive shark off the coast of Maui, Hawaii this past week. The size of the bite marks have led doctors to estimate that the shark itself may have been gigantic. Regardless, Evonne Cashman was bitten while swimming and is now lucky […]

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79-year-old American tourist killed in elephant attack during game drive in Zambia

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — A bull elephant charged a truck that an 79-year-old American was riding in with other tourists on a game drive in a Zambian national park, flipping over the vehicle and killing her, a safari company said.

The attack injured five others on March 30 in the vast  Kafue National Park , which covers 22,400 square kilometers (8,600 square miles) and is one of Africa’s largest animal reserves.

Family identified the victim as Gail Mattson, 79.

According to the safari company Wilderness, the “aggressive” bull elephant unexpectedly charged at the truck, which was carrying six guests and a guide on a morning excursion through wild areas.

It wasn’t clear what upset the bull. But in a video widely circulated online, the pachyderm is seen menacingly charging through the bushy terrain toward the tourists’ vehicle. A man is heard shouting “hey hey hey,” in apparent but futile efforts to scare it away. It reaches the truck and flips it over using its trunk.

Another female tourist was seriously injured and flown by helicopter to South Africa for treatment while the rest were treated for minor injuries, the company said.

“This is a devastating incident for everyone involved and we are doing our best to support the family and all affected,” Tarryn Gibson, the safari company’s head of communications told The Associated Press on Thursday.

While many wildlife parks in southern Africa teem with dangerous animals like elephants and lions, such incidents are rare, although they sometimes do occur with fatal consequences due to the unpredictability of wild animals.

Keith Vincent, chief executive officer of the safari company, said rough terrain minimized chances of an escape.

“Our guides are all extremely well trained and experienced, but sadly in this instance the terrain and vegetation was such that the guide’s route became blocked and he could not move the vehicle out of harm’s way quickly enough” he said.

Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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Hawaii island police investigate crash that killed 2 women

  • By Star-Advertiser staff
  • March 31, 2024

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Two women died in a Saturday afternoon crash involving three vehicles in Waikoloa on Hawaii island.

According to a Hawaii County police 911 call on Saturday at 11:30 a.m., a blue 2020 Kia Soul SUV was heading east on Waikoloa Road near the 3-mile marker when it crossed over the center line and struck a silver 2024 Chevrolet Blazer SUV head-on traveling west.

Waimea resident Lynn Capell, 72, who was driving the Kia, was transported to the North Hawaii Community Hospital where she was pronounced dead at 3:17 p.m.

The 75-year-old man from Washington operating the Chevrolet, and a 77-year-old man from Alabama who was sitting in the front seat, were transported to the North Hawaii Community Hospital for further treatment.

Alabama visitor Eugenia Taylor, 79, who was sitting in the right backseat of the Chevrolet, was found unresponsive at the scene and transported to the Kona Community Hospital where she was pronounced dead at 5:30 p.m.

A silver 2023 Chevrolet Equinox veered off the road and onto lava rock to avoid the collision. The operator of the Equinox and three other passengers were uninjured, but the vehicle was deemed inoperable.

Autopsies will be done to determine the exact causes of death. Police said at this time, speed and inattention were factors in the crash.

The Area II Traffic Enforcement Unit has initiated a coroner’s inquest investigation and is asking anyone who may have witnessed the collision to contact officer Ansel Robinson at (808) 326-4646, ext. 229, or email at [email protected]. Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call CrimeStoppers at (808) 961-8300.

This marked the 13th and 14th traffic fatalities on Hawaii island this year compared to five at the same time last year. Their deaths were also the 6th and 7th traffic fatalities for March.

They were also the second and third traffic fatalities on Big Isle roads within 12 hours after a 26-year-old Hilo male motorcyclist was killed late Friday evening in Hilo.

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Taiwan's strongest earthquake in 25 years kills 9 people, 50 missing

  • Earthquake kills nine, more than 900 injured
  • Fifty on minibuses heading to national park missing
  • Epicentre just off Taiwan's sparsely populated east coast
  • Workers return to semiconductor giant TSMC facilities

Shaking from an earthquake near Taiwan’s eastern shore was felt across the island nation and parts of mainland China and Japan on Wednesday morning.

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Workers walk at the site where a building collapsed following an earthquake, in Hualien

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Shaking from an earthquake near Taiwan’s eastern shore was felt across the island nation and parts of mainland China and Japan on Wednesday morning. The Wednesday quake was the strongest to hit the island nation in about 25 years.

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Reporting by Yimou Lee and Fabian Hamacher, Shanghai and Hong Kong newsrooms; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Chizu Nomiyama, Alison Williams and Josie Kao

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hawaii tourist killed

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Yimou Lee is a Senior Correspondent for Reuters covering everything from Taiwan, including sensitive Taiwan-China relations, China's military aggression and Taiwan's key role as a global semiconductor powerhouse. A three-time SOPA award winner, his reporting from Hong Kong, China, Myanmar and Taiwan over the past decade includes Myanmar's crackdown on Rohingya Muslims, Hong Kong protests and Taiwan's battle against China's multifront campaigns to absorb the island.

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IMAGES

  1. 4 Dead In Hawaii Tourist Helicopter Crash

    hawaii tourist killed

  2. Three people were killed in Hawaii when their tour helicopter crashed

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  3. US tourist killed by shark in Hawaii loved the water

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  4. Tourist dies in ocean in while defying Hawaii quarantine

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  5. Authorities: Tourist bitten, killed by shark while swimming in Hawaii

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  6. Remains of 6 people found after Hawaii tour helicopter crash

    hawaii tourist killed

COMMENTS

  1. Tourist dies after 250-foot fall from cliff on treacherous Hawaii trail

    April 8, 2022 / 6:10 AM EDT / CBS/AP. A visitor to Hawaii fell off a cliff and died Wednesday while hiking a ridge line trail near a mountain summit on the east side of Oahu. The 30-year-old ...

  2. Two tourists found dead on Kauai

    Updated: Nov 6, 2023 / 09:00 PM HST. HONOLULU (KHON2) — A male visitor has died after being pulled out of Hanalei Bay on Sunday, according to Kauai Police. Get Hawaii's latest morning news ...

  3. Hawaii vacation of 3 friends from East Coast ended in death

    April 07, 2021 at 11:38 pm EDT. HONOLULU — A Hawaii vacation for three tourists from the U.S. East Coast turned deadly after one of them became "psychotically" drunk, his friend testified ...

  4. Hawaii police: Bellevue tourist's death was homicide

    On Friday, neighbors of the couple in Bellevue learned that more than a year after 41-year-old Smriti Saxena died, Hawaii police are calling her death a murder. "I am shocked," said Sheekee ...

  5. California Woman Is The Only Tourist Confirmed Killed In Maui Wildfire

    Reading time: 3 minutes. A 72-year-old woman from California has been confirmed to have died during the Lahaina wildfire, but most of the tourists who were in the area that day are believed to ...

  6. Woman loses husband, friend in flash flood says visitor ...

    Updated: Mar 8, 2021 / 07:15 AM HST. HANA, Hawaii (KHON2) - Two visitors died in flash flood conditions in Hana, Maui within a two week period. On February 18, 26-year-old Shannon Benstead of ...

  7. Tourist killed in Maui wildfires saved up for 'healing' trip, died one

    A grandmother from California is the first tourist to have been identified as among the 115 confirmed victims in the Maui wildfires — dying just a day before she was due to fly home. Theresa …

  8. Hawaii man imprisoned for 1991 murder and rape of tourist is released

    Hawaii man imprisoned for 1991 murder and rape of tourist is released after judge hears new evidence of innocence. ... Pauline was killed in a New Mexico prison by a fellow inmate in 2015.

  9. Kauai police identify hiker who died after falling 120 feet from

    Kauai police vehicle (Hawaii News Now/file) By HNN Staff. Published: Sep. 25, 2023 at 11:45 AM HST HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Kauai police have identified a hiker who died after falling about 120 ...

  10. What it was like to flee Maui wildfires for tourists vs. locals

    When Ryan Cabrera, a 37-year-old Native Hawaiian who lives in Lahaina, found himself surrounded by smoke on Tuesday, Aug. 8, he grabbed his daughter's hand and just ran. Long term, he knew he ...

  11. Tourist Dies After Falling 100-Feet Into Hawaii's Active ...

    January 4, 2022. •. Tragically, a 75-year-old Hawaiian tourist recently died after falling 100-feet into an active volcano. Early today, authorities found the body of an unidentified Hawaiian tourist. It's been determined that the man fell 100-feet below the crater rim of a viewing area of the Kilauea volcano.

  12. Maui fires: Hawaii death toll hits 55, recovery to take years

    Follow. KAHULUI, Hawaii, Aug 10 (Reuters) - Maui's wildfires have killed at least 55 people, a toll expected to rise, and unleashed destruction on the resort town of Lahaina that will take many ...

  13. California woman identified as 1st tourist killed in Maui fire

    LAHAINA, Hawaii - A California woman was the first tourist identified by officials as a victim of the deadly Maui fires. Theresa Cook, 72, of Pollock Pines, Calif., was staying in a hotel in ...

  14. Hawaii fires: tourists warned against travelling to Maui in wake of

    Officials in Hawaii have urged tourists to avoid traveling to Maui, as many hotels prepared to house evacuees and first responders on the island after wildfires killed more than 90 people and ...

  15. Maui's tourists mean well. But they're traumatizing ...

    Hawaii's governor and mayor invited tourists back to the west side of Maui months after the Aug. 8 fire killed at least 100 people and destroyed more than 2,000 buildings. They wanted the ...

  16. Things to know about aid, lawsuits and tourism nearly a month after

    FILE - A girl rides her bike past a sign that says "Tourist Keep Out," in Lahaina, Hawaii, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2023. Nearly a month after the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than a century killed scores of people, authorities on Maui are working their way through a list of the missing that has grown almost as quickly as names have been removed.

  17. Death In Paradise Is All Too Frequent For Visitors To Hawaii

    Yet, the Aloha State's drowning rate for visitors is so much higher than the national average. Hawaii's visitor drowning rate — 5.7 per 1 million visitor arrivals — dwarfs those in states ...

  18. Survivors of deadly Maui blaze face displacement after displacement: 'I

    W hen Charles Nahale checked into a one-bedroom time-share condo in Kapalua Bay, a tourist mainstay on Maui's north-west coast, in mid-October, front desk staff told him he would only be staying ...

  19. Kayak company speaks out after visitor swept away, killed ...

    A woman was swept away during a kayak and hiking tour along Kauai's Wailua River this weekend. Police have identified the woman as Aimee Abrahim, 32, of El Cajon, Calif. An autopsy is pending ...

  20. Way Too Many Tourists Are Dying In Hawaii

    On Tuesday, a 27-year-old visitor from Japan died while scuba diving off the island of Oahu. Tatsumi Umemura became unresponsive in the water, an Emergency Medical Services spokeswoman told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. The cause of death hadn't been determined. A Chinese tourist, 21-year-old Mei Jun Huang, was pronounced dead Tuesday after ...

  21. Hawaii

    German tourist dies during strenous hike in Hawaii. According to seattlepi.com, a German tourist died while hiking the strenuous Kalalau Trail on the north shore of Kauai. The death of the 61-year-old on Friday was near the eight-mile marker of the 11-mile-long trail that stretches from Ke'e Beach to the Kalalau Valley.

  22. 79-year-old American tourist killed in elephant attack during game

    Published: Apr. 4, 2024 at 7:12 PM PDT | Updated: 25 minutes ago. HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — A bull elephant charged a truck that an 79-year-old American was riding in with other tourists on a game ...

  23. Hawaii island police investigate crash that killed 2 women

    Two women died in a Saturday afternoon crash involving three vehicles in Waikoloa on Hawaii island. According to a Hawaii County police 911 call on Saturday at 11:30 a.m., a blue 2020 Kia Soul SUV ...

  24. Hawaii ducks Maui fire class actions but isn't off the hook yet

    HONOLULU (CN) — A federal judge ruled Friday that the state of Hawaii won't have to face federal claims from a trio of federal class actions filed against it in the aftermath of the devastating wildfires in Maui that destroyed the town of Lahaina and killed over 100 people. U.S. District Judge Jill Otake essentially severed any state ...

  25. Taiwan's strongest earthquake in 25 years kills 9 people, 50 missing

    Taiwan's biggest earthquake in at least 25 years killed nine people on Wednesday and injured more than 900, while 50 workers travelling in minibuses to a hotel in a national park were missing.

  26. Dozens trapped in tunnels after Taiwan's strongest quake in 25 years

    Rescuers in Taiwan scrambled to free dozens of people trapped in highway tunnels after the island was struck by its strongest earthquake in 25 years Wednesday, killing at least nine and injuring ...

  27. Hawaii police reclassify 5 month old child death to murder

    18 hours ago. HONOLULU (KHON2) — On Dec. 31, 2022, a five-month-old baby was being rushed to a fire station in Pahoa by the baby's 21-year-old mother and her boyfriend. According to reports ...

  28. Tourist from Minnesota who was killed by an elephant in Zambia ...

    April 5, 2024. MINNETONKA, Minn. (AP) — Family members described an American tourist who was killed in Africa when a bull elephant charged the truck she was riding in as an adventurer who loved ...

  29. Rising power of sleep tourism emphasizes rest, wellness

    An $814 billion global wellness tourism industry enables travelers to enjoy "slow travel," which in turn enables them to relax and focus on wellness instead of spending every waking moment on the go.