Three Drown in Puna 10/10/99

HAWAII COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENT
PUNA PATROL DISTRICT
LIEUTENANT JAMES KELLY
PHONE: 966-5835
OCTOBER 10, 1999
G-08227/G-08228/G-08238

MEDIA RELEASE

Three persons apparently drowned in two separate incidents Sunday (October 10, 1999) in waters off the Puna coastline.

In the first incident, two teenage males apparently drowned in waters off the end of Kahakai Boulevard in the Hawaiian Beaches subdivision. They were identified as identified as Jacob Giffin, 18, and Mason Spratt, 14, both of the Hawaiian Shores subdivision.

In the second, Merlin Kamahele, 34, of the Kalapana Black Sands subdivision, apparently drowned in waters off Opihikao.

In the first incident, police and fire rescue personnel responding to an 11:42 a.m. call learned that Giffin and Spratt had gone swimming. Spratt’s sister, Cheyenne, 17, fell in the water and had trouble making it back to shore. She saw her brother and Giffin were struggling in the water and called for help.

An unidentified man jumped in the water and pulled Giffin from the water. He gave the victim cardiopulmonary resuscitation until fire rescue personnel arrived.

Giffin and Spratt were taken to the Hilo Medical Center. Giffin was pronounced dead at 12:42 p.m., and Spratt was pronounced dead at 1:04 p.m.

In the second incident, police and fire rescue personnel responding to a 1:21 p.m. call learned that Kamahele was fishing with his brother and three other friends in the Opihikao area when he fell off a cliff onto rocks in the water below.

His brother and another fisherman tried to pull the victim from the water, but were unable to reach him.

The victim was pulled from the water by a rescue helicopter and taken to the Hilo hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 4:40 p.m.

The three deaths have been classified as public accidents, and autopsies have been ordered to determine the exact causes of the deaths.

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