East Hawaii News

Two Puna Residents Arrested After Playing in Lava

October 31, 2014, 10:06 AM HST
* Updated October 31, 10:12 AM
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The Hawai’i Police Department arrested two Puna residents for trespassing into a restricted area near active lava on Thursday.

Police responded just before 6 p.m. to a report that two people were in the area of an active lava flow above Pahoa. When officials arrived, officers observed a man and a woman who were within five feet of lava, facing the flow and taking pictures.

The couple possessed two golf clubs, each with a ball of hardened lava on the end. The pair was on County of Hawai’i property beyond a fence and the path of travel indicated that they has crossed private property to reach the viewing location.

HPD identified the individuals as sixty-five-year-old Ruth Crawfort of Ainaloa and 59-year-old Stephen Koch of Nanawale. They were arrested for second-degree criminal trespassing.

Later that evening, police located a pickup truck and sports-utility vehicle in the Pahoa Community Center parking lot, the vehicles were registered to each arrested individual. Officers observed through the front windshield various household utensils that had been dipped in lava.


After being charged, Crawford and Koch posted bail of $250 each and were released.


HPD encourages members of the public to report sighting of people who may be trespassing near the active lava flow or in areas beyond police barricades.

Individuals who prefer to provide information anonymously call the Big Island’s Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300.

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