Single-Vehicle Accident Leaves One Dead, Two Injured in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park

One man is dead and two others are seriously injured following a single-vehicle roll-over accident that occurred Sun., May 28 at 8:58 p.m. near the 33-mile marker on Hwy. 11 in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.

The vehicle, a white Toyota Tacoma truck, was traveling in the Ka‘ū-bound lane when it rolled over and ejected all three occupants. A 48-year-old male passenger was found pinned beneath the truck and pronounced dead on the scene by Hawai‘i County Fire Department medics.

The 43-year-old male driver, a Pāhoa resident, was placed under arrest for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol. He was transported by ambulance to Hilo Medical Center for further evaluation, and escorted by National Park law enforcement personnel. The third occupant, a 53-year-old male, was also transported to Hilo Medical Center for treatment.

One lane of Highway 11 remained open during the accident scene investigation, and both lanes were open and flowing freely early Monday morning. Names are being withheld pending notification of next of kin, and further investigation.

This is the second fatal traffic accident in the park this year.

Anyone with information regarding this accident can call Park Dispatch at (808) 985-6170.

Hawaii Farms Count! 2017 Census of Agriculture

The Census of Agriculture is coming in December and to prepare, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will visit Hawaii farm and ranch properties now through the end of June. The agency will conduct an area survey across Hawaii to determine crop acreage and livestock inventories for 2017 to make sure every farm is counted for the Census of Agriculture later this year.

“When farmers and ranchers participate in the area survey in May and June, they provide essential information that helps us determine the prospective production and supply of major commodities in Hawaii for the 2017 crop year,” said Kathy King, Hawaii State Statistician. This year, the area survey is especially important because it will ensure there is coverage of every farm for the Census of Agriculture. King added, “With the information from the area survey in Hawaii, we will have the most accurate and reliable data in the Census of Agriculture, covering key demographics, crop diversity, and value of production.”

For the area survey, agency representatives visit randomly selected tracts of land and interview the operators of any farm or ranch on that land. Growers provide information on their crop acreage, farm demographics, livestock inventory, and value of sales. King emphasized, “Everyone involved in Hawaii agriculture looks forward to the Census of Agriculture data, which provides the complete picture of farming and ranching in our state. With everyone participating in this area survey, we will have top quality data for the Census of Agriculture.”

Farmers can be assured all individual information provided to NASS is confidential and only used for statistical purposes as required by law.  For more information on NASS surveys and reports in Hawaii, please give Kathy King a call at the NASS Pacific Region-Hawaii Field Office at 1-808-522-8080. All reports are available on the NASS website:  http://www.nass.usda.gov/Publications.

Eleven Arrests, Marijuana Plants, and Illegal Crossbow Mark Latest Napali Enforcement Effort

Work to restore the Nāpali Coast State Wilderness Park to its true wilderness character continued during a three-day law enforcement operation this week. A dozen officers from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) and the Dept. of Public Safety’s Sheriff Division arrested eleven people for being in a closed area without a permit in the Kalalau area of the park.  A twenty-year-old man, who could not produce an identification, was handcuffed and flown out of the park and booked on charges at the Kaua‘i Police Department.  So far in May, a total of 28 people have been arrested for failing to have the permit required for traveling past the two-mile marker on the famed Kalalau Trail.  During law enforcement efforts over the past two years more than 200 people have been arrested.

“We still have work to do,” commented DOCARE Enforcement Chief Robert Farrell. On this, his first trip to the Nāpali Coast since becoming state conservation enforcement chief, he joined his officers as they hiked up the rugged Kalalau Valley in search of illegal squatter camps.  On Wednesday they located numerous camps.  At two, they pulled up small marijuana plants.  At one they confiscated an illegal crossbow. Both camps are well established and elaborate.  One, where squatters had recently posted a web video depicting a brazen party and all the comforts of home, had a pizza oven, an enclosure with a queen-sized bed, what appeared to be an alcohol still, and an extensive system of solar and battery powered lights for its marijuana growing operation.

Farrell added, “The Nāpali coast is very, very remote. It’s logistically challenging to get officers to the area and it’s difficult to have them stay for long-periods of time for sustained enforcement. Beyond satellite phones, there’s no communications. There are a lot of places for people to run and hide, and though clearly some of the camps had significant populations, once they know we’re coming in, they hide.  DOCARE plans to increase its frequency of patrols, which unfortunately means shorting attention in other areas.  The division fully supports the Division of State Parks’ continuing efforts to secure funding for dedicated, full-time staff in Hawai‘i’s largest and most remote park to provide education, outreach, emergency response assistance, and law enforcement notification.”

The chief, who has previously worked as a game warden in California as well as in the field on Hawaiʻi Island, said, “What’s happening in Kalalau is reminiscent of illegal pot growing operations on state and federal lands in California.  Like the California marijuana growers, the Kalalau squatters have no regard for the law or for protection of natural and cultural resources.

He added, “People with permits should be able to enjoy one of the most unique and beautiful landscapes on the planet without the fear of being harassed or having their experience diminished or threatened by those who simply do what they want, where they want, and how they want.  We are continuing to have zero tolerance for these kinds of behaviors and when we catch you, you will be arrested.”

The Nāpali coast enforcement operations are fully supported by DLNR leadership. Chair Suzanne Case said, “Law abiding local residents and visitors from all over the world get permits to make the challenging and rewarding 11-mile, one-way hike to the State designated camping area at Kalalau Beach.  We’re charged with determining the carrying capacity of both the natural resource and manmade features there, and want to ensure that visitors to this incredible place take away positive memories.  Many have planned for a life-time to do the Kalalau backpack, and we intend to honor their dreams and accomplishments by ensuring Nāpali is a true wilderness.”

May 2017 Napali Enforcement VNR from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

Notice of Construction on Banyan Drive May 31 to June 16

Hawaii Electric Light announces construction work in the area of Banyan Drive near the intersection of Banyan Drive and Lihiwai Street in Hilo.

As part of the company’s efforts to upgrade underground infrastructure and improve service reliability for customers, contractors will be performing excavation work from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. weekdays from Wednesday, May 31, to Friday, June 16, 2017. Work will not be performed on the Kamehameha Day holiday on Monday, June 12, 2017.

Work will be performed off the road but occasional partial lane closures may be necessary while heavy equipment is moved. Motorists are asked to slow down and drive with caution in the construction area.

Hawaii Electric Light regrets any inconvenience this may cause and thanks the community for their patience and understanding. For questions or concerns, please call 969-6666.

Another Big Island Road Fatality in East Hawaii

Another car accident on Big Island’s roads has claimed the life of another person and left two other injured:

Type of Incident: Motor Vehicle Accident

Situation Found at Scene: Single car MVA noted off the road laying on the driver side. One person noted pinned under the mid section of the vehicle without signs of life. Another occupant was outside of the vehicle laying face down and not moving, complaining of pain to his legs. A third occupant self-extricated and ambulatory. No fire, no other vehicle involved roadway is open with traffic control.

Cause: Unknown, under investigation by National Park Rangers/HPD still on scene upon our departure.

Remarks: Company 19 departed the scene, incident is under investigation.  Scene turned over to HVNP and HPD.