Golf Ball Injures Baseball Player

On February 2, 2001 on O‘ahu, a man hit two golf balls from behind a University of Hawai‘i dormitory toward the Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium. One of the golf shots sailed down into the stadium, where the state softball tournament was in progress. The golf ball hit one of the softball players directly in the mouth as she was in the dugout preparing to go to bat for ‘Iolani School.

The impact knocked out one of the competitor’s teeth, loosened other teeth, and bloodied her mouth. The man was later convicted of second-degree assault.[i]

Submarine Crashes into Fishing Boat

On February 9, 2001, in waters about nine miles off of Pearl Harbor, the fast-attack submarine USS Greeneville was engaged in a rapid-ascent surfacing drill.

As the submarine approached the ocean’s surface it collided with a fishing boat named the Ehime Maru, which was on a fishing training expedition with southwestern Japan’s Uwajima Fisheries High School. The collision sank the trawler Ehime Maru and killed nine of its crewmembers.

The surfacing drill was done for the benefit of 16 civilians aboard the submarine as distinguished guests. Two civilians were at key controls aboard the submarine as it performed the surfacing drill known as a main ballast blow to the surface.

The initial crash of the submarine into the fishing boat ripped open the bulkheads and fuel tanks on the Ehime Maru. The fishing boat then plunged toward the bottom reaching a speed of more than 60 m.p.h. as parts of the boat were crushed by the pressure of the deep sea and the ship crashed into the seafloor. In 2002, the Navy paid $13 million to the families of the victims.[ii]

Breaching Whale Lands on Tourist

On February 13, 2001, passengers aboard the boat Hokua were on a humpback whale-watching trip offshore of West Kaua‘i’s Barking Sands Beach when they saw a young humpback veer away from its mother and breach from the water.

The 22-foot whale landed on the legs of a woman sitting on the stern of a 40-foot catamaran. The front of the breaching whale landed on the woman’s legs, breaking one of her knees.[iii]

Soldiers Die in Crash of Black Hawk Helicopters

On February 12, 2001, two UH-60 Army Black Hawk helicopters crashed near Kahuku, killing six soldiers, and injuring 11. The six soldiers who died were all on the same helicopter, which was carrying an Army Humvee in a sling hanging beneath the helicopter. The Humvee weighed 8,000 pounds, which was just 37 pounds short of the load limit for the helicopter.

The two helicopters were about 150 feet up when the crash occurred, and were part of a group of twelve helicopters (three groups of four) that were participating in a nighttime military training exercise called “Lightning Thrust Warrior.”

The helicopter carrying the Humvee was at the rear of the group and fell behind. The pilot radioed the code “heavy metal” to the others, requesting that they slow down so he could get back in position.

As the fourth helicopter caught up it apparently had too much speed, and the pilot then radioed a request to helicopter three to speed up, but helicopter three replied that it could not speed up and still maintain formation. The helicopters were executing two 90-degree turns so they could land with the wind behind them.

At that point helicopter four broke formation and flew to the right, past the others, causing helicopters two and three to veer left to make room. Helicopter four then banked about 35 degrees to the right and the sling of helicopter four came in contact with the rotor blades of helicopter one, the lead helicopter, severing part of the sling. This caused the fourth helicopter to nose over and crash. The helicopter whose blades had contacted the sling then began “autorotating,” and also crashed.

After the accident, a team of more than 90 soldiers completed a thorough search of the area. The incident was one the worst helicopter accidents in the history of the Hawaiian Islands.

Months after the accident, the widow of the crew took her two young sons to the crash site on the day before Father’s Day, and to her great alarm she found a jawbone at the crash site. This prompted another search of the area, which recovered a credit card, a wedding ring, and more bones.[iv]

Shark Bites Bodyboarder

On March 23, 2001, a man suffered minor cuts when he was bitten by a shark while bodyboarding about 35 yards offshore at O‘ahu’s Sandy Beach.

Woman Falls into Lava Tube

In April of 2001, a Hawai‘i Island woman was reported missing. Her family members searched the area near her Pāhoa home, and rescue crews later retrieved her body from a 15-foot deep lava tube.[v]

Diver Lost and Found at Sea On the evening of April 7, 2001, an O‘ahu man took his 19-foot powerboat about ½-mile off Ka‘ena Point where he dove for tropical fish. The man became separated from his lead line and was unable to return to his boat due to the current, which began to carry him around the point. When he failed to return home in the evening his wife alerted authorities. A helicopter search was launched at about 3 a.m. Fortunately the man was able to remain afloat due to a buoyancy compensator device, which is an adjustable flotation device used by divers. After 18 hours in the water he made it to shore at Mokulē‘ia Beach, about 15 miles (24 km) from where he was originally diving.[vi]

Shark Bites Surfer’s Hand

On April 11, 2001, a man surfing off ‘Ewa Beach on O‘ahu was bitten on his left hand by a shark estimated to be about 3 feet (.9 m) long. The injuries included cuts and puncture wound.

Pit Bulls Attack Horse On May 18, 2001 at about 7 p.m., three pit bulls attacked a seven-year-old mare named Lilo, which was being ridden by a woman on a trail along the rim of Kaua‘i’s Hanalei Valley. The pit bulls came toward the horse and rider at a dead run and bit into the horse’s legs. The woman was bucked off the frightened horse, which went over the edge of the hillside with the dogs still attacking. The muscular dogs weighed between 50 and 100 pounds. The horse was valued at $10,000. It was later determined that the horse died from both the attack and the long fall. The dogs disappeared from the scene. Despite the offer of a financial reward, authorities investigating the incident did not find the owner of the dogs.

Five Survive Plane Crash in Ocean off Hāmākua Coast

On May 18, 2001, four passengers and a pilot were flying aboard a Cessna 337 Skymaster tour plane over the ocean on Hawai‘i Island’s Hāmākua Coast when suddenly the plane’s engine sputtered and died.

The four passengers and the pilot were plucked from the sea by the a Waiākea Fire/Rescue Station helicopter, and suffered only cuts and bruises. The plane sank about 100 yards offshore in about 100 feet of water.[vii]

Plane Crashes on Lāna‘i

On June 14, 2001, a flight instructor and his student were on an interisland instructional flight on a Piper Comanche airplane over Lāna‘i. The flight ended near the Kānepu‘u ridge where the aircraft slid along the ground for about 50 feet, slammed into a four-foot embankment and then continued on for about another 200 feet before coming to a stop. Both wings were ripped off the plane.

The crash took the life of the 23-year-old student pilot from Kāne‘ohe, who was a also a member of the U.S. Navy. Federal investigators concluded that the student pilot may not have properly followed the commands of his 22-year-old instructor.

The student pilot mistakenly made a left descending turn instead of a right descending turn, sending the plane down into some clouds. The instructor took over the controls but it was too late, and he was not able to gain elevation in time to avoid crashing.

Despite severe head and leg injuries, the flight instructor crawled from the scene and managed to leave his flashlight pointed at the fuselage before passing out. The crash occurred at 8:44 p.m. and the rescuers found the site about five hours later. The light was credited with helping rescuers find the crash site.[viii]

Man Attempts Swim to Ni‘ihau

On June 9, 2001, a 27-year-old man left Hanapēpē Bay on Kaua‘i early in the morning in a quest to swim from Kaua‘i across the Kaulakahi Channel to Ni‘ihau. He had told his parents on the phone the night before that he had “a vision,” and was going to “swim and be with the Hawaiians.” He apparently had spoken with another man who had swam the channel the year before.

Shortly after 6 p.m. a Coast Guard helicopter 11 miles east of Ni‘ihau spotted the lone swimmer, who was picked up in a rescue basket. The man had been swimming for about 11 hours and had a small water bottle tied to his body, but he had no clothes on.[ix]

Three Survive 80-Foot Descent at Waterfall

On June 26, 2001, two 22-year old male visitors from California jumped from the top of Kaua‘i’s 80-foot Wailua Falls, a popular visitor attraction well known for being featured in the opening scene of the television series, “Fantasy Island.”

The two men were walking above the falls when one of them stopped, removed his backpack and shirt, and then took a running leap over the edge. He landed feet first, plunging beneath the water for more than 20 seconds before rising to the surface. The second man then jumped, but hit the water awkwardly. When he surfaced he had trouble swimming, and he was moaning in pain.

From the guardrail above the falls, the friends and family members of the two men who jumped off the falls were crying and screaming, distraught at what they were watching.

Both jumpers had multiple injuries and were airlifted by helicopter to a waiting ambulance, and then taken to the emergency room at Wilcox Hospital. By the next morning both were listed in stable condition.

Less than 24 hours later, another 22-year-old male fell from the top of the waterfall by accident as he tried to jump over a channel in the river above the falls and lost his footing.

When he surfaced from the pool below the falls, his shirt had been ripped off and he was holding his right shoulder and wiping blood from near his eye. Like the victims the day before, he was airlifted from the scene.[x]

Man Chasing Hat Falls Into Volcano

On August 5, 2001, a Navy Lieutenant who was stationed aboard the guided missile frigate USS Crommelin outside of Pearl Harbor decided to visit Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. He was standing on the rim of Kīlauea caldera and enjoying the spectacular view into the crater when suddenly a gust of wind blew his hat off his head.

The man tried to retrieve it by climbing through the safety railings and reaching over the edge of the crater rim. Suddenly he slipped and fell, descending about 85 feet before having his fall broken by a Myrica faya tree, which miraculously stopped him from falling another 100 feet.

Rescuers were called, and had to be lowered by ropes to pull the man out in a harness. A CAT scan and a series of tests revealed that the man had no serious injuries. After 12 stitches and some bandages, he was released from the hospital. The “Abercrombie & Fitch” hat was never recovered.[xi]

Sheep Hunter Shot by Arrow

On August 12, 2001, a 44-year-old Hawai‘i Island resident was sheep hunting with two others in South Kohala. An arrow shot at a sheep by one of the men ricocheted off a rock and hit one of the other men in the chest.

The shooter was about 15 yards from the sheep when he shot the arrow, but some trees and rocks prevented him from seeing the other man, who was standing about 20 feet to one side of the sheep. The injured man pulled the arrow from his chest, but the arrowhead remained fatally lodged in his heart.[xii]

Five Survive Fiery Helicopter Crash

On September 28, 2001, four passengers and a pilot were in a helicopter heading for a tour of the active lava flows of Kalapana on Hawai‘i Island. Suddenly they heard strange noises, including a loud bang that came from the helicopter’s engine, which then caught on fire and lost power.

The Bell 206 helicopter started going down, and the pilot steered the powerless craft to an “auto rotation” crash landing in a Kea‘au field.

The passengers and the pilot were able to safely get out of the helicopter, which then burned. One male passenger suffered minor injuries and the $250,000 helicopter was destroyed.

It was later determined that a turbine wheel had flown out of the helicopter, and the copter suffered “catastrophic engine failure.” The pilot was credited with executing the landing and helping his passengers from the burning craft.[xiii]

Shark Bites Man’s Surfboard

On November 14, 2001, a surfer at Maui’s Kapalua Beach had his surfboard bitten into by a shark.

[i] Lum, Curtis. Jail possible for golf ball incident: Ex-UH student found guilty of injuring girl. The Honolulu Advertiser, 8/11/2001.

[ii] Ehime families sign $13 M settlement. The Honolulu Advertiser, 11/14/2002.

[iii] TenBruggencate, Jan. Young humpback jumps, falls on tourist. The Honolulu Advertiser, 2/15/2001.

[iv] Cole, William. Army releases crash report: Pilot of one Black Hawk blamed. Honolulu: Honolulu Advertiser, 08/12/2001.

Gordon, Mike, and Cole, William. Army copter pilot blamed: Findings in fatal collision anger families. Honolulu: Honolulu Advertiser, 08/11/2001.

[v] Missing Big Island woman found dead. The Honolulu Advertiser, 4/26/2001.

[vi] Wright, Walter. Diver found safe after 16 hours at sea. O‘ahu: Honolulu Advertiser, 4/09/2001.

[vii] Hurley, Timothy. 5 safe in plane’s sea landing: Cessna ditched off coast of Big Island. The Honolulu Advertiser, 5/19/2001.

[viii] Ishikawa, Scott. Crash survivor to be interviewed: Plane wreckage studied on Lāna‘i. Honolulu: Honolulu Advertiser, 06/17/2001.

Report: Student pilot may have made wrong turn. Kaua‘i: The Garden Island, 07/17/2001.

TenBruggencate, Jan. Board finds few clues to Lāna‘i plane crash. The Honolulu Advertiser, 6/29/2001.

TenBruggencate, Jan, and Dayton, Kevin. Findings on 3 air crashes released. The Honolulu Advertiser, 10/01/2004.

[ix] Man rescued off Ni‘ihau after swimming 11 hours. The Honolulu Advertiser, 6/09/2001.

[x] Curtis, Paul C. Two hurt after leaping from Wailua Falls. The Garden Island, 6/27/2000.

Sprague, Brandon. Third victim within 24-hour period is in stable condition. The Garden Island, 6/28/2000.

[xi] Clark, Hugh. Luck follows man over Kīlauea rim: Tree breaks 85-foot fall by Navy officer as he runs after hat. O‘ahu: Honolulu Advertiser, 8/06/01.

Clark, Hugh. Navy lieutenant survives fall into volcano. Honolulu Advertiser, 8/06/2001.

Man survives fall into Kilauea. Kaua‘i: The Garden Island, 8/06/01.

[xii] Fatal arrow shot ruled an accident. The Garden Island, 8/18/2001.

Man dies after being shot by arrow. The Garden Island, 8/13/2001.

[xiii] Lum, Curtis. Helicopter crash-lands in Kea‘au: All aboard escape serious injury as fire destroys chopper. The Honolulu Advertiser, 9/29/2001.

Wright, Walter. Severe engine failure blamed in Big Island helicopter crash-landing. The Honolulu Advertiser, 11/02/2001.