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In brief | Big Island & State | 3-1-14

Updated: 
March 1, 2014 - 5:48am

Sailor continuing journey after storm

A mariner aboard a 24-foot sailboat 944 miles from the main Hawaiian Islands is safe and continuing his voyage to San Francisco after surviving a gale-force storm in the Pacific, U.S. Coast Guard officials say.

The Coast Guard suspended a search Thursday for the sailing vessel Pier Pressure after communication was established with the owner, Rimas Meleshyus. Thursday evening, Meleshyus said he was OK and did not need assistance.

Earlier Thursday he had texted a friend that he had lost his life raft and was in danger. The friend passed the message to the Joint Rescue Coordination Center.

Meleshyus departed Hilo Feb. 9 on a solo voyage to San Francisco aboard his sailboat.

Following several unsuccessful attempts to contact Meleshyus, the Coast Guard launched a rescue mission. An HC-130 Hercules aircraft crew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point, the Coast Guard Cutter Kukui, homeported in Honolulu, and two Good Samaritan vessels were en route to the sailboat’s last known position when Meleshyus established communication.

Police arrest mother, son on meth charges

A Hawi mother and her adult son were arrested Thursday on charges of meth distribution and other offenses.

Officers from the Area II Vice Section, North Kohala Patrol and Community Policing served a search warrant Thursday at a home on the 55-3300 block of Akoni Pule Highway in Hawi. The property is within 750 feet of a private school. Police found 2.2 grams of a crystalline substance, suspected to be methamphetamine, paraphernalia associated with meth distribution, 1.4 grams of a dried leafy substance suspected to be marijuana and $5,032 in cash.

Officers arrested Blaine Isabel, 35, and April Isabel, 55. They were taken to the Kona police cellblock while detectives continued the investigation. Thursday afternoon, both were charged with meth trafficking, promoting a dangerous drug, promoting a detrimental drug, possessing drug paraphernalia and promoting a controlled substance near a school.

April Isabel was released Thursday evening after posting $16,250 bail. Her son was held at the cellblock in lieu of $81,000 bail pending his initial court appearance Friday.

Police encourage members of the public to report suspected narcotics activity to the Police Department’s Ice Hotlines at 329-0423 for information pertaining to the Kaʻu, Kona, South Kohala and North Kohala districts, and 934-8423 for information pertaining to the Puna, South Hilo, North Hilo and Hamakua districts.

Tipsters may also call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Kamehameha Avenue traffic pattern to change through September

The traffic pattern on Kamehameha Avenue from Ponahawai Street to the Pauahi Street intersection will be one lane of travel in each direction starting Monday, Department of Public Works officials said. Vehicle traffic will shift to the mauka lanes. This traffic pattern is tentatively scheduled to remain through September 2014.

Travel through Pauahi Street will be maintained and left and right turns will be allowed at the Pauahi Street intersection.

Two public parking lots on the makai side of Kamehameha Avenue will remain open. Motorists may access both by using new, temporary entrances off of nearby Bayfront Highway. The Hele-On Bus park-and-ride lot located closer to downtown will be open to northbound and southbound traffic. However, only southbound motorists may enter the other lot.

The contractor will set up the traffic pattern and access to the parking lots at 8 p.m. Sunday.

Alternate routes to downtown Hilo are Kilauea Avenue, Kinoole Street, Manono Street and Waianuenue Avenue. Businesses are open as usual in the area.

The Kamehameha Avenue Bayfront bus stop and park-and-ride, including the South Kohala Hele-On bus was temporarily relocated to the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium during the scheduled Kamehameha Avenue reconstruction.

Motorists should expect traffic delays during construction and provide extra time to travel through the work zone. Public Works is reconstructing the four-lane roadway and sidewalks on Kamehameha Avenue while improving the drainage and upgrading the traffic signal at the Pauahi Street intersection. The project will also add curb ramps, left turn pockets, center left turn lanes, bike lanes, and LED streetlights.

One-way traffic pattern set for Banyan Drive March 15

To accommodate walkers at the 17th annual Hilo Heart &Stroke Walk &Health Fair, a temporary, one-way traffic pattern will be in effect on Banyan Drive between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. March 15. Traffic will be allowed to flow in the makai, or northeasterly, direction on Banyan Drive between both sides of Lihiwai Street. During these times, parking will be allowed only on one side of Banyan Drive to coincide with the one-way traffic pattern.

Lost hiker located

The fire department helped find a hiker lost in the Piha Forest Reserve Thursday.

The 20-year-old male hiker was guided out by a ground search party, after his cellphone was used to triangulate his position. A crew in a department helicopter spotted him and assisted with the rescue.

Hawaiian Airlines again loses out on Haneda-Kona route

The U.S. Department of Transportation on Friday announced it had approved United Airlines’ petition to take over an available route to Haneda Airport in Tokyo. The route will originate in San Francisco.

Hawaiian Airlines had also submitted a petition, seeking a flight that would originate in Kona. This is at least the second unsuccessful petition Hawaiian has submitted for the Kona-Haneda route.

NTSB: Fatal Lanai crash left 500-foot debris field

HONOLULU — Federal investigators say the wreckage of a plane that crashed and burned on Lanai left a 500-foot debris field.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators arrived at the crash site Friday to begin determining what went wrong.

The twin-engine Piper Navajo Chieftain crashed in former pineapple land of central Lanai Wednesday night, killing the pilot and two Maui County Planning Department Employees. Three other Maui employees were injured.

NTSB spokesman Peter Knudson told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser the plane crashed at a low angle. He said the plane’s fuselage was at the far end of the debris field.

Knudson said the NTSB has no record of transmissions between the pilot and air traffic controllers.

NTSB expects to have a preliminary report on the crash in the next 10 days.

Hawaii advances bill to fine lying at bus stops

HONOLULU — Lying down and obstructing a bus stop would become a form of disorderly conduct under a bill the Hawaii House of Representatives has passed.

The misdemeanor could result in a $50 fine.

The measure is aimed at keeping bus stops clear for travelers. But in pointed debate on the House floor this week, lawmakers argued that it could punish homeless people searching for shelter.

Some lawmakers say it’s hypocritical to pass the measure while also advancing a Homeless Bill of Rights that would define and protect the civil rights of homeless people. Rep. Jo Jordan told her colleagues any unpaid fines could keep a person from qualifying for public housing assistance.

The Senate will vote on the bill next.

Scientists monitor shark behavior off Oahu coast

HONOLULU — Researchers with the University of Hawaii have captured hours of shark-cam video that reinforces the fear tiger sharks strike in other animals.

The video cams of different shark species off the Oahu coast have provided insights about survival behavior, including animals relying on each other for protection, KITV reported.

“It seems to be the case, that nothing really seems to want to hang out with a tiger shark,” said Carl Meyer, a researcher with the university’s Institute of Marine Biology.

Researchers said sandbar sharks, Galapagos and hammerheads prefer to swim together despite being different species to guard themselves against the fierce predators.

“So by being in a school of sharks you decrease your odds of being the one that’s being caught when a big tiger shark comes through and wants to eat you,” Meyer said.

Tiger sharks also congregate in schools to survive.

“It stays together throughout the day, but then they gradually swim higher and higher like a tornado of sharks, until sometime in the later afternoon or evening, then they go off on their own to do their own thing,” Meyer said.

Scientists also have turned to technology developed in Hawaii. They insert a 4-inch device into the sharks that enables them to monitor digestive behavior before the devices are regurgitated and float to the surface.

Meyer said researchers download the information to determine how often sharks are fed and to get a sense of how much they have been eating.

Researchers hope to expand their studies to sharks in Maui waters.

Garbage truck fatally strikes woman

HONOLULU — A 70-year-old Honolulu woman has died after being run over by a city garbage truck in Kalihi.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Barbara Kato was the third person fatally injured on Oahu by a garbage truck in just over a year.

One of the two other incidents involved a city garbage truck and the other one involved a privately owned vehicle.

Kato was struck Thursday morning by a truck driven by a 57-year-old woman. She was taken to Queen’s Medical Center, where she died.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell said the city will cooperate in the investigation.

By local and wire sources