7 sent to hospital after smoke fills cabin of flight to Hawaii


The Associated Press

Seven people were taken to the hospital Thursday after smoke filled the cabin of a Hawaiian Airlines flight from California to Hawaii.

Hawaiian Airlines says 184 passengers and seven crew members used evacuation slides to get off the plane after it declared an in-flight emergency and landed in Honolulu.

Jon Snook, Hawaiian Airlines chief operating officer, said smoke was first detected on Hawaiian Airlines Flight 47 from Oakland, Calif., about 20 minutes prior to landing as the plane began to descend.

American Medical Response spokesman James Ireland said a total of 11 patients had breathing complaints and seven were taken to the hospital with respiratory problems.

Ireland said the youngest patient taken to the hospital was a 9-month-old. He said another older child was also taken to the hospital and the rest were adults. All injuries were considered minor.

One person was examined at the scene for injuries sustained during the evacuation.

Snook said there was visible smoke in the cabin and a smoke indication in the cargo hold set off a warning in the cockpit, which prompted the emergency landing. He said there were no visible flames anywhere on the plane.

An automatic fire suppression system was activated in the cargo hold, Snook said.

He said smoke was still prevalent in the cabin after the plane landed, which is why the passengers were ordered to use the slides to evacuate the aircraft.

Shuttles took passengers, who left their luggage behind, to a staging area at the airport. Snook said Hawaiian Airlines is refunding passengers for the cost of their round trip tickets and will give passengers a voucher for future travel.

“It’s going to take a little bit of time to get the bags released from the aircraft, obviously we want to be sure that we understand what the source of the smoke was and one possibility of course is that the bags may have been a source,” Snook said. “We have no evidence to suggest that right now but we want to be cautious about taking the bags off.”

Snook thanked the crew and passengers for evacuating in an orderly way “in what could have been a complex and dangerous situation.”

Snook said the National Transportation Safety Board will be notified and conduct an investigation. The Federal Aviation Administration will also investigate, said spokesman Allen Kenitzer.

Firefighters said it took the passengers just 30 to 45 seconds to exit the aircraft. A few had only minor bruises from coming down the slides, said Glenn Mitchell, the airport’s fire chief.

Officials say protest costs are over $3M

HILO (AP) — Hawaii County has spent more than $3 million on overtime and other costs as a result of protests against the Thirty Meter Telescope.

News organizations reported Wednesday that Hawaii County Finance Director Deanna Sako says the cost to the county government has been nearly $3.27 million since demonstrations began in July.

Demonstrators want to block work on the $1.4 billion telescope on the summit of Mauna Kea, which they fear will further harm the area many Native Hawaiians consider sacred.

Hawaii island Police Chief Paul Ferreira says his department spent more than $217,000 on overtime from July 1 to 15 and $2.77 million from July 16 to 31.

State Sen. Lorraine Inouye published a letter Tuesday calling on Democratic Gov. David Ige to resolve the impasse.

Cops boost traffic enforcement near telescope protest

MAUNA KEA, Hawaii (AP) — Police have issued about 100 tickets daily since last week for parking and traffic violations near the site of a protest against the construction of another telescope on Hawaii’s tallest mountain.

Big Island officers are not targeting protesters of the Thirty Meter Telescope project on Mauna Kea, but are increasing enforcement to maintain safety, police Maj. Sam Jelsma told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

“There is increased traffic up here due to the protest movement,” Jelsma said. “Obviously, with people camping out on the side of the road, there is a need for increased police presence, which will make things safer.”

Protesters have been near the intersection of Daniel K. Inouye Highway and the road to the summit since mid-July. They want to block work on the $1.4 billion telescope, which demonstrators fear will further harm a summit many Native Hawaiians consider sacred.

U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, a Democrat, visited the protest site Monday and toured the tent encampment at the base of the Mauna Kea Access Road.

Police are also setting up checkpoints for drunken driving and seat belt enforcement, Jelsma said. State Department of Transportation officials placed signs Monday prohibiting parking, stopping and unloading near the intersection.

Kaho‘okahi Kanuha, a demonstration leader, said protesters do feel targeted by police. A better way to address safety concerns would be to install more barricades to separate pedestrians and parked cars from passing traffic, Kanuha said.

Andre Perez, another protest leader, said police have not directly communicated with demonstration leaders any specific changes needed for parking arrangements.

Shark bites woman twice while she is swimming in bay

HONOLULU (AP) — A woman was taken to a hospital Tuesday after being bitten twice by a shark while swimming in Hawaii, authorities said.

The woman, 27, was reported to be in “good health” and was expected to be released after a shark bit her while she was swimming Kealakekua Bay on the Big Island’s western side, leaving her with injuries to her lower back and right hip area, police said.

Officials didn’t provide her name.

Soon after the woman was taken to a hospital in serious condition, preliminary information provided to firefighters was that the shark bit her in one of her legs and her torso, Hawaii Fire Department Battalion Chief William Bergin said. She was about 50 yards from shore, he said.

“The shark is still in the area, so we’re trying to get people out of the water at this time,” he said.

Police said witnesses described the shark as having a gray tip. Bergin said he was told it’s possibly a 6-foot black-tip reef shark.

The bay will remain closed until at least noon today.

Hawaii County misses deadline for cost-saving code revisions

KAILUA-KONA (AP) — A new statewide energy code could increase the cost of home building after officials missed a deadline to enact exemptions on Hawaii Island, a report said.

Hawaii County failed to meet a two-year deadline to implement changes to the International Energy Conservation Code, West Hawaii Today reported Sunday.

Neither the county council nor the public works department initiated a new law to make changes, while Maui and Kauai passed bills to lessen the code’s impact.

The updated code that went into effect last week requires double-paned windows and completely sealed houses with fully insulated walls, floors and roofs. The change will reduce energy use by almost a third, saving more than $1 billion in statewide energy costs over 20 years, officials said.

School board OKs code changes for misconduct

HONOLULU (AP) — The state school board has voted to elevate the seriousness of high school bullying and harassment as disciplinary offenses, officials said.

The Hawaii state Board of Education passed a revised misconduct code Thursday that included making bullying, cyberbullying and harassment Class A offenses and the most serious of four levels of misconduct, the Star-Advertiser reported.

Individual school principals still have the power to determine the consequences of these actions.

“The discipline that is issued is not predetermined by the class of offense that is issued,” said Heidi Armstrong, assistant superintendent of the Office of Student Support Services. “That is uniquely on a student-by-student, case-by-case basis.”

Principals are required to consider five factors, including the intent of the offender and the severity of the offense, school officials said.

School-level investigations are to be completed within five days, and both parties are to be notified with further action to “preserve the safety of everyone involved,” board members said.

The revisions also state civil rights complaints can now be filed by a student who experiences or witnesses discrimination, harassment, bullying or retaliation, school officials said. Parents and employees who know about or witness this behavior can also file complaints.

The U.S. Office of Civil Rights found the state’s school system was not supporting its students, so the misconduct code added those changes to act in accordance with regulations, school officials said.

The department expects to train school staff on the changes in October and November if the governor approves the new rules, officials said. The revised code is expected to take effect Jan. 1.

Hawaii student suspensions at US average, not the worst

HONOLULU (AP) — A report with erroneous data has been corrected to show student suspensions in Hawaii were not the nation’s worst, officials said.

The Hawaii Department of Education mistakenly combined suspension days for every offense, rather than by student, before the information was sent to the federal government and publicized by the American Civil Liberties Union in June, the Star-Advertiser reported.

The report was corrected and shared Thursday to say there were 24 suspended days for every 100 students, not the previously reported 41 days, officials said.

“With the recalculation, Hawaii falls within the national average and is not the worst in the nation as was reported,” Schools Superintendent Chris-tina Kishimoto said.

Errors were discovered when the department generated data from the 2015-16 school year for the U.S. Civil Rights Data Collection, officials said. The federal government requests information every two years, but this was the first time they asked for the number of days suspended per 100 students.

Following the correction, the number of suspended days for students with disabilities and for Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders was still at a higher rate compared to other states, officials said.

The number of suspended days for students with disabilities was corrected to 50 days, but still surpassed the national average of 44 days, school officials said. The number of days that Pacific Islanders were suspended fell by 45 percent in the corrected numbers.

State legislators debate jurisdiction over telescope road

Larger legal issue looms for TMT and other telescopes

HONOLULU (AP) — State officials are debating jurisdiction over the road leading to a contested telescope project, a report said.

State Sen. Kai Kahele questioned the state’s legal jurisdiction over Mauna Kea Access Road during a legislative briefing Wednesday, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Thursday.

The dispute over the state Department of Transportation’s jurisdiction could develop into a larger legal issue for the Thirty Meter Telescope and other Mauna Kea telescopes.

The plan to start construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on the Big Island has been thwarted for weeks by Native Hawaiian activists who say the construction will further desecrate a mountain some consider sacred and already has more than a dozen observatories.

Police arrested about three dozen people blocking the road July 17. The number of demonstrators has grown to a few thousand on weekends.

The transportation department built the Mauna Kea Access Road over Department of Hawaiian Home Lands property without permission about 50 years ago. The state never executed a land transfer as part of a $600 million agreement in 1995 to compensate for the misuse of Hawaiian home lands, said Home Lands Director William Aila.

The transportation department maintains operational control over the road despite the lack of compensation 24 years later, the state attorney general’s office said.

Democratic Gov. David Ige’s administration is working to ensure the land swap is completed, Aila said.

Without the land exchange, the state breached the agreement and cannot claim title to the access road or stop protests there, Kahele said.

“That road belongs to the beneficiaries of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act,” Kahele said.

Bidders vie for Obama’s Punahou basketball jersey


The Associated Press

HONOLULU — Bidding was drawing to a close Friday for a basketball jersey believed to have been worn by President Barack Obama.

Peter Noble was a student at a prestigious and elite Honolulu prep school when he grabbed a basketball jersey that was destined for the trash. Years later he saw an old photo of Obama, a fellow Punahou School alumnus, wearing the No. 23 jersey while a guard on the 1979 Hawaii state championship team.

Noble, who was three years behind the future president at Punahou, said he took the jersey because he also played basketball with that number.

“I took it because they were getting rid of it,” said Noble, now 55 and living in Seattle. “It meant nothing else, really.” Noble grew up “idolizing” Punahou basketball, he said.

It wasn’t until Obama was elected president that Noble saw the photograph. He thought it was interesting and showed the jersey off to friends out of pride for Punahou. “I talk about Punahou and Punahou athletics perhaps the way an Alabama fan talks about Roll Tide,” he said, referring to University of Alabama’s rally chant.

Mostly, the shirt remained in his closet, following him during moves to various cities.

“I got to thinking: Is there an opportunity to do something, perhaps good?” he said. “Perhaps have this see a bigger, broader light of day than sitting in my closet.”

Noble connected with Heritage Auctions of Dallas and as of Friday morning, the bid was at $43,000. The sale result will be announced Sunday.

The auction house said every detail on the shirt matches the one Obama is photographed wearing. “We can see the multiple years of wear in the softness of the tackle twill identifiers and the ‘Rawlings (size) 40’ label at lower right front tail, and even a scattering of small stains consistent with blood, perhaps Obama’s,” says a description of the auction item. “A patched repair at lower front left likewise documents the long, rough-and-tumble history of the historic garment.”

Punahou spokesman Robert Gelber said the school is “enormously proud” of Obama, but cannot confirm authenticity of the jersey.

“We simply cannot make comment on the authenticity of the jersey itself,” he said. “It’s not something we are able to do.”

Obama, who mostly sat on his bench during his Punahou basketball days, couldn’t be reached for comment.

The school will receive an undisclosed portion of the sale, Noble said, “because I owe so much to Punahou.”

He joked that another jersey might have been more valuable to him, personally.

“In hindsight, I wish I had grabbed No. 5 because it was Darryl Gabriel and Darryl Gabriel was my favorite player,” he said. According to Punahou, Gabriel led Obama and their teammates to the state basketball championship.

State / In Brief

The Associated Press

Gabbard breaks for reserve training

HONOLULU — Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii is taking two weeks off from her 2020 Democratic presidential campaign to participate in Army National Guard training.

Gabbard announced the two-week break in a statement Monday. She will return to the campaign trail on Aug. 25.

Gabbard is a major in the Army National Guard who has served in the military for more than 16 years and deployed to Iraq in 2004 and Kuwait in 2008.

She will be participating in a joint-training exercise with the Indonesian military.


Police make arrest in purse snatching

HONOLULU — Honolulu police have arrested a teenager in connection with the death of a woman who died from injuries suffered when her purse was snatched, a report said.

Police arrested a 16-year-old boy Saturday on suspicion of manslaughter in the death of 85-year-old Dolores Corpus, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Monday.

Police did not identify the teenager.

Authorities say 82-year-old John Corpus and his wife were on an early-morning walk three blocks from their Oahu home July 21 when a bicyclist snatched her purse and fled.

John Corpus told police he did not see the theft in the Kalihi neighborhood as his wife walked ahead of him, but found her lying in the crosswalk.

Her purse containing $2,000 in cash was missing, police said.

The couple walked home and called police. Emergency Medical Services responded to treat Dolores Corpus’ injuries, officials said. She was taken to a hospital where she died four days later from bleeding in the brain, police said.


High court rules for language classes

HONOLULU — The state Supreme Court has ruled Hawaii’s constitution requires reasonable access to Hawaiian language immersion programs.

Hawaii News Now reported Tuesday that the justices ruled the programs are a necessary component in restoring the Hawaiian language and ultimately the culture.

The case was brought by the parent of two schoolchildren on Lanai, saying the island’s only public school did not offer a Hawaiian language immersion program.

The court ruled 3-to-2 that access to a Hawaiian language class only a few times per week was not sufficient.