Top Maui Now Headlines: July 20, 2018
Twenty-three people on a Lava Ocean Tours vessel were hurt on Monday, July 16, when what’s been described as a “lava bomb” sent molten lava showering down on the metal roof of the vessel, leaving a large hole in it. Hawaiʻi County officials say the boat arrived near the Pohoiki Lava entry site about 500 yards offshore, then proceeded to get closer until it was around 200 yards offshore. The vessel reportedly turned out to sea when the explosion happened near the shoreline and “hurled hot lava rocks” toward the boat, which was named “Hot Spot.” The permanent safety zone established by the U.S. Coast Guard currently stands at 300-meters, with no exclusions.
Hawaiʻi Island police have launched a murder investigation into the death of a police officer who was fatally shot while on a traffic stop on Highway 11 in Mountain View on Tuesday, July 17. According to police reports, the driver was 33-year old Justin Waiki, who had a last known address in Las Vegas and was wanted on an outstanding no bail warrant and multiple All-Points Bulletins. Police say the suspect exited the vehicle’s front seat and fired multiple shots, striking Officer Bronson K. Kaliloa in the neck and leg area. Other officers at the scene immediately returned fire; however, the suspect Waiki, was able to flee into the brush on foot; anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call police. Waiki is considered armed and dangerous, so do not approach him. Officer Kaliloa died at the hospital — he was a 10-year veteran of the Hawaiʻi Police Department and leaves behind a wife and three small children.
The backcountry of Haleakalā National Park on Maui has reopened to park visitors as of Wednesday night, after a two-day search for a suspect in a reported assault. Chief Ranger Ari Wong said that after an “exhaustive search,” he is “confident that the assailant is no longer in the crater.” The incident was reported by a female hiker on Sunday, July 15. All trails within the park are back open, and the park will resume issuing backcountry permits for cabins and campers.
A new community science voyage is hoping to reduce plastic pollution and a Maui business is among those joining the effort. The “Eat Less Plastic” project is currently sailing on its five-month voyage from Southern California to New Zealand, collecting debris data from unstudied waters. Project organizers say nearly 8 million tons of plastic pollution fill the ocean each year and threaten our shorelines. Along with collecting data and samples, the crew will organize service projects on their stops to learn how residents of the Pacific Islands are fighting plastic pollution. Maui’s own Hawaiian Paddle Sports eco-tour company has committed to join in on the sail from Tahiti to the Cook Islands. See who else from here is taking part in our story at MauiNow.com. Video footage of the journey will be used for education and outreach.