Two visitors from China have died after a crash while driving down from the summit of Haleakala. Maui Police say the crash happened this afternoon at 12:24 p.m. A 2014 Nissan sedan left the road while traveling down Crater Road and missing a left curve. The driver, a 72 year-old man from the People’s Republic of China, was killed when the car slammed into a boulder on the right shoulder of the road.
Three other people were also in the car. A male passenger died later this afternoon at Maui Memorial Medical Center. Two other passengers are also being treated at MMMC. One of the back seat passengers has been treated and released.
All five were on vacation on Maui. Identification of the deceased is pending notification of next of kin in China.
Both of the men who died – in the front seat – were wearing seat belts. The airbags deployed on impact. None of the back seat passengers were buckled up. The involvement of speed, drugs, and alcohol has not been determined as the investigation is still ongoing.
By Jeff King
With 11 more arrests Wednesday on the Big Island as the movement to stop construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), Governor David Ige has been put in the position of issuing statements followed by retractions. On Tuesday – in advance of the scheduled construction restart, Hawai’i State Chief of Staff Mike McCartney issued this statement on behalf of the governor – who is in Washington, D.C. attending an energy forum:
“It is our belief that there will be mutual respect and aloha on Wednesday and in the days ahead as TMT restarts construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope.
“TMT has the approvals needed to proceed with construction. We respect those who oppose the project and their right to peaceably assemble and to protest in an orderly and civil manner.
“The State of Hawai‘i’s primary concern is the health and safety of its people. The state and Hawai‘i County are working together to uphold the law and ensure safety on roadways and on Mauna Kea, while allowing the people their right to peacefully and lawfully protest.”
After hundreds of Mauna A Wakea protectors blocked construction crews and vehicles, Police and DLNR enforcement officers encountered little resistance – but were overwhelmed by sheer numbers. In total, 11 people were arrested. Also, “somehow,” large boulders were strewn across the rugged access roads leading to the TMT site – forcing vehicles back. After that news made to D.C. last night, Governor Ige’s Chief of Staff said:
“Eleven adults were arrested by the Hawai‘i Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement (DOCARE) Wednesday, during a protest to stop construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea.
“The arrests are unfortunate, but the state’s number one priority is the safety of the people on Mauna Kea – from TMT workers to protestors who are exercising their first amendment rights to peaceably assemble and protest in a civil manner.
“We are disappointed and concerned that large boulders were found in the roadway leading to the summit of Mauna Kea. This action is a serious and significant safety hazard and could put people at risk.
“Because of this, we are making an assessment to determine how to proceed.
“We will be working to clear the roadway tomorrow. Therefore, construction is on hold until further notice.”
On Maui, a rapidly arranged but largely attended gathering Wednesday night tried to block large trucks from transporting building materials to the summit of Haleakala to complete the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope. The group gathered at the entrance of the Central Maui Baseyard along Mokulele Highway from 8 p.m. until well after midnight. A video, recorded at 2:38 a.m. today, appears to show a representative of the planned trucking project addressing the crowd, confirming the overnight-haul was cancelled. View the clip here.
An unintended consequence of the scheduled haul was the closure of the road to the Summit – preventing early risers from viewing today’s sunrise from the peak of the House of The Sun. The road is set to reopen at 2 p.m. today.
On a semi-related topic, activists on Maui are being particularly active lately. Tonight in Kihei, a community forum has been set from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on the topic of cane burning. Details on the planned event are available here.
Haleakalā National Park is recruiting local residents for Kia`i ala Hele (Trail Guardians) to educate backpackers and hikers about the unique natural and cultural resources of Haleakalā. Families are particularly encouraged to apply.
Trail Guardians commit to volunteering 6 hours a month for 6 months. The application deadline is Wednesday, May 20. Three required training sessions will be offered: Wednesday, May 27, 5-8 p.m., at the Pukalani Community Center; Saturday, May 30, 8 to 5 p.m., at park headquarters; and Saturday, June 20, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., at park headquarters. Trainings will cover natural and cultural resources, education, emergency protocols, and CPR/First Aid.
The program was piloted in 2014 with funding provided by the Hawai`i Pacific Parks Association, a non-profit park partner. Twelve of the original 14 volunteers continue to participate, including the Hunt and Kavula families, who saw Kia`i Ala Hele as way to spend family time in a place they all love.
“I was immediately drawn to Kia`i ala Hele,” said Jennifer Hunt, who volunteers with husband Terry and 13 year old son Ryan. “We have been hiking in Haleakalā with our son since he was 5. It is a beautiful place and we knew earl
y on that we had found something special. It’s such a great opportunity for Ryan and kids today in general, to “unplug” and see what is out in the real world. We all really enjoy having a reason to go up there once a month. It has been a great experience for us.”
“My husband Kevin and I signed up to give back to the community and provide a support network for the National Park Service,” said Cyndee Kavula. “Being Trail Guardians allows us, as a couple, to learn and educate visitors by being part of a team that preserves and protects Haleakalā. The future of our National Parks depends on all of us!”
“The experiences of the Hunt and Kavula families highlight what a powerful experience volunteering in a national park can be,” said superintendent Natalie Gates. “A key focus of the 2016 National Park Service Centennial is connecting local people to their local parks. Kia`i Ala Hele is one way we are building those connections.”
Volunteers are needed in the Kīpahulu and Summit Districts. For more information and to apply go to: http://www.nps.gov/hale/getinvolved/volunteer.htm Click on the “Kia`i Ala Hele” links for training information and the application.
The public is invited to participate in a public scoping period and public meetings for proposed conservation work.
The National Park Service, in partnership with the Leeward Haleakalā Watershed Restoration Partnership and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, proposes to protect and restore either 1,300 or 2,100 acres of habitat for native species in the upper elevations of Nu‘u on the leeward slope of Haleakalā.
The park is starting to prepare an Environmental Assessment (EA) and welcomes public participation during the environmental analysis process. The public will have two opportunities to formally participate: during this initial public scoping period and during future public review of the EA.
More information and comment card form may be viewed at the park’s website www.nps.gov/hale. Comments can be also submitted online to https://parkplanning.nps.gov/projectHome.cfm?projectId=5570, by email (to HALE_Superintendent@nps.gov with the subject line “Nu‘u Public Scoping”), or by regular mail (Attention: Nu‘u Public Scoping, Haleakalā NP, P.O. Box 369, Makawao, HI, 96758). All comments must be received by close of business May 17.
Comments will not be accepted by FAX or in any manner other than the methods specified above. Bulk comments in any format (hard copy or electronic) submitted on behalf of others will not be accepted. Before including a personal address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in written comments, anyone providing written comment should be aware their entire comment – including their personal identifying information – may be made publicly available at any time.
While anyone wishing to comment may ask the National Park Service in their comment to withhold their personal identifying information from public review, the National Park Service cannot guarantee it will be able to do so.
The public is also invited participate in meetings. Wednesday, May 13, 2015, Kula Community Center, 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m; and Thursday, May 14, 2015, Hana High and Elementary School Cafeteria, 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
All national parks will waive entrance fees on April 18 and 19, during the beginning of National Park Week. This year’s theme introduces the National Park Service 2016 Centennial message, “Find your Park.” The 2015 National Park Week runs from April 18 to April 26.
A special highlight will be the pilot testing of new junior ranger booklet activities on April 19, which is Junior Ranger Day at Haleakalā. On Junior Ranger Day kids who complete one new activity will receive a sticker; kids who complete three activities will get a junior ranger badge. The booklet will be improved and revised as needed based on their feedback. The final, completed booklet will be published this summer.
Throughout the week visitors can play national park trivia games in all park visitor centers and participate in daily talks, hikes, and cultural demonstrations. Activities will be posted at all visitor centers.
By Jeff King
Cool, Man! W-A-A-A-Y Cool! to be precise. Temperatures atop Haleakala tonight are expected to skirt the “freezing” range, while low temps on the Big Island will be in the Big Low!
The last big full moon of winter cast a beautiful image across Mauna Kea. Tonight, among winds in excess of 50 miles per hour, look for lows up there in the teens…which, unless out calculator is askew, makes the “feels like” or “windchill factor” somewhere around 754 below zero…or so. IOW, a tad on the cool side.
Tomorrow the spell is expected to ease up a little. This week’s webcast and broadcast edition of Maui TV News – in high definition – will run down another month of – surprisingly – above average amounts of rainfall across the Aloha State…and especially on the Valley Isle.
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