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Name of Tour Guide Who Passed Away Released

The Hawaiʻi Island Police Department is investigating the death of a tour guide in Puna.

At 8:16 a.m., Thursday morning, Feb. 1, 2018, police and fire department personnel responded to the Kalapana lava viewing area for a report of a man who had collapsed in the lava field while leading a hiking tour.

Investigators determined that just before 4 a.m., the group was approximately two miles inland from the 24.5-mile marker of the emergency road. Heavy steam clouds caused by the rain engulfed the group when the victim collapsed and went unconscious.

Due to limited visibility and poor cell phone reception, the remainder of the group, who were not familiar with the area, hiked for several hours before they were able to call for help.

The fire department’s helicopter located the victim’s body about 290 meters outside of the Volcanoes National Park boundary and on State land. The victim was taken to the Hilo Medical Center where the official pronouncement of death was made at 12:28 p.m.

The three visitors on the tour, a 22-year-old woman from South Carolina, a 23-year-old man from New Jersey, and a 22-year-old man from New York, were treated by medics for non-life-threatening injuries.

The victim was identified as 51-year-old Sean King of Pāhoa. No foul play is suspected and an autopsy is being ordered to determine the exact cause of death. Detectives with the Criminal Investigation Section are investigating this as an unattended death.

Anyone who may have information about this incident is asked to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311 or Detective Bobbie-Jo Sagon of the Area I Criminal Investigation Section at (808) 961-2375 or Bobbie-Jo.Sagon@hawaiicounty.gov.

Guide Dies During Lava Tour

NPS File photo.

The Hawai‘i Fire Department reports that one person passed away and three others were injured in the Kalapana Chain Of Craters Road area of the Big Island near the Kalapana lava viewing area near Royal Gardens.

HFD reports that four people were overcome by a noxious steam cloud while on a guided hiking tour near the lava flow.

While on their tour, it rained, which created a noxious steam cloud that quickly surrounded them, affecting their vision and breathing.

The initial HFD call came in as four persons trapped in a noxious steam cloud.

The guide succumbed to the noxious effects of the cloud, while the other three people escaped.

The first unit on scene was Chopper 1 and they located the three people in a safe area.

Chopper 1 found the tour guide unresponsive in another location. He was air lifted to an awaiting ambulance crew.

After physical examination, it was determined that the victim was deceased.

Chopper 1 and Chopper 2 airlifted the three other people to safety; they sustained minor injuries and denied any further EMS services.

Bikes Stolen From Tour Company

Kalapana Cultural Tours (KCT) has reported that sometime in the early morning of Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, between 12:30 and 5 a.m., five “specialized” mountain bikes which were locked together at the KCT property in Kalapana were stolen.

“These are the exact same colors and type of bikes and that were stolen from KCT last night or early this morning” said Kalapana Cultural Tours Manager Fred Aiona

“The five bikes were valued at about $2,000 to $3,000” said KCT Co-Owner Andrew Dunn.

KCT President and Co-owner Ikaika Marzo posted the following to Facebook:

“Someone stole our bike’s this morning from my property in Kalapana. Five specialized bikes which were locked together. They had cut the lock and stole my company’s bikes. Anyone with information, please contact me or message me. REWARD! For any info. No questions.”

Anyone with information on the bikes is asked to contact the Hawai‘i Police Department’s non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311 or contact KCT at (808) 345-4964.