DLNR scuba assault investigation report at prosecutor’s office
Hawaii County’s prosecuting attorney says his office has received a report on a May 8 incident in which one scuba diver allegedly ripped another diver’s breathing apparatus out of her mouth.
Mitch Roth said Monday his office did receive the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ investigation into the attack on Friday. He said it was being forwarded to the Kona office after being processed through his office’s intake procedures and he had not seen it yet himself.
A DLNR spokeswoman did not respond to an email seeking an update on the investigation as of press time Monday.
Rene Umberger, a Maui dive instructor and opponent of tropical fish collecting, told West Hawaii Today last month she was diving Keawaiki on May 8 with friends. They were recording two men collecting tropical fish on the reef when one saw her and swam toward her. The man pulled the regulator out of her mouth, Umberger said. She was about 50 feet below the surface. Umberger and another diver filmed the incident.
Umberger said Monday she has not been contacted by DLNR with any update on the case.
Reports last month indicated DLNR intended to cite the fish collector — whom other media outlets have identified but West Hawaii Today has not, because he has not yet been charged with any crime or named by the DLNR — with reckless endangerment and Umberger with harassing a fisherman.
Umberger initially attempted to report the attack to Hawaii Police Department. They referred the case to DLNR’s Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement because the incident happened in the ocean, which is under DLNR’s jurisdiction.
The incident received national attention and shed light on the aquarium fish collecting industry in Hawaii.