Elderly Man Who Died in Lava Tube Fall Identified

November 7, 2019, 1:19 PM HST (Updated November 7, 2019, 1:46 PM)

The Hawaiʻi Police Department has identified the elderly male that died at his residence in Kaumana on Monday, Nov. 4. after falling down a lava tube.

The victim has been positively identified as 71-year-old Robert Hisashi Nishimoto.

Responding to the residence at approximately 8:30 a.m., for a report of an elderly male that had not been seen or heard from in several days, police located the victim.

It appeared that he had fallen through a soft area of ground into a lava tube on his property. Hawaiʻi Fire Department Rescue personnel responded to the scene and were able to rappel into the lava tube and extract the victim, whose body was approximately 22 feet below the surface.


The victim was transported to the Hilo Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

The Area I Criminal Investigation Section responded to the scene to assist and continued the investigation, which is classified as a coroner’s inquest.

An autopsy was performed on Tuesday, Nov. 5 and determined that the victim died as a result of injuries consistent with falling.

No foul play is suspected in this case.


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