Elderly Man Dies After Falling Down Lava Tube

November 5, 2019, 2:29 PM HST (Updated November 5, 2019, 2:29 PM)
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A 71-year-old man has died after falling into a lava tube on his Poki Place property Monday in Hilo.

The Hawai‘i Police Department was called to the scene by way of a missing person report. After surveying the property, officers noted a lava tube shaft approximately two feet wide and nearly 25 feet deep.

Police located the victim unresponsive at the bottom of the shaft, at which point Hawai‘i Fire Department officials were called in to administer a rescue operation.

“It appears (the victim) was trimming some branches in his yard and fell into a lava tube on his property and expired,” said HPD Maj. Robert Wagner. “(He) fell about 20 feet down.”

No positive ID had been made as of 2 p.m. Tuesday, continued Wagner, adding it had been one of the victim’s friends who reached out asking police to check on him.

HPD said the incident is being investigated by the Hilo Criminal Investigation Section.

Max Dible
Max Dible is a reporter for Big Island Now. He will also serve in a news capacity for Pacific Media Group's Hawai‘i Island family of radio stations. He formerly worked as a community reporter for West Hawai‘i Today in Kailua-Kona from 2016 to 2019. Before that, he was a sports editor, sports reporter and radio talk show personality with the Iowa State Daily and KURE 88.5 FM, respectively, in Ames, Iowa. He's won several regional and national journalism awards, at both the collegiate and professional levels, for breaking news, long-form feature writing and his work as a sports columnist.
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