East Hawaii News

UPDATE: Autopsy Friday for Hiker Found Dead on Lava Plain

May 7, 2013, 8:42 PM HST
* Updated May 17, 2:37 PM
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***Updated at 5:12 p.m., May 8.***

An autopsy has been scheduled for Friday for the man who died on the lava plain near Kalapana, a police spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Fire department rescuers were called to the area in mid-afternoon Tuesday by the man’s companion, who had reported a hiker in distress.

A department spokesman said the man was found near the Kalapana Gardens subdivision which was covered by lava in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The man has not been identified.

There have been other deaths associated with the viewing of lava from Kilauea volcano, including a man who died of a heart attack while hiking across the rugged landscape in the 1990s.

In 2000, a man and a woman were found dead several hundred feet inland from where lava was entering the ocean. It was later determined that the two had died of pulmonary edema, likely caused by the inhalation of hydrochloric acid contained in the plume generated by the mixture of lava and seawater.

In 1998, a Big Island resident died after falling down a littoral cone created at the site of an ocean entry.

Also, a Kona man died in 1993 when the lava bench he was standing on collapsed into the ocean. Three others nearby managed to run to stable ground but the Kona man was never found.

Police also have requested the public’s assistance in locating a missing Japanese tourist whose rental car was found near the lava-viewing area in mid-February.

 Posted at 8:42 p.m. on May 7:

At approximately 3 p.m. this afternoon, the Hawaii Fire Department received a call for help from a male hiker near the lava viewing area in Kalapana.

Eleven personnel were dispatched, in addition to Chopper 1.

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According to an HFD official, rescue workers arriving at the scene were met by the hiker who made the call. The man informed rescuers that his companion was in distress.

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After a search, fire personnel found an unidentified male lying dead on a lava field between the Kalapana lava viewing area and the ocean.

The cause of death is unknown at this time, and the case has been turned over to the Hawaii Police Department.

***Updated on May 17 to correct details of 1998 death.***

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