Man suffers brain injury after truck hits 10 cars

HONOLULU (AP) — Family and friends say a 31-year-old man sustained brain and spine injuries after a tow truck plowed into his compact car earlier this week.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Friday that Jim Braddock, who is originally from New Jersey, is hospitalized in critical but stable condition.

The husband and solar consultant was the driver of one of 10 cars that the tow truck hit Wednesday in Kaneohe on Oahu island.

The 52-year-old tow truck driver told police she was hauling another truck when the brakes started to fail.

Police said the tow truck hit vehicles in both lanes of a two-lane highway off-ramp.

Police said some witnesses told officers the tow truck driver was on a cellphone.

Three women in separate cars were also injured and taken to the hospital.

Flags at half-staff for Rep. Rod Tam

The Maui News

U.S. and Hawaii flags are flying at half-staff today to honor longtime Oahu state lawmaker Rod Tam, Lt. Gov. Josh Green announced Friday. Tam died May 15 at age 65. His memorial service is being held today.

Tam spent three decades in political office, starting with the state House where he served for 12 years. He also served in the state Senate and on the Honolulu City Council. He was a graduate of the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Injured man, 5 others cited for trespassing in Hawaii park

HONOLULU (AP) — A man injured during a rockfall in an Oahu state park was among five people cited for trespassing, officials said.

State officials cited Lincoln Hittner of Honolulu on Tuesday for trespassing in a closed park, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Thursday.

Hittner was treated for minor injuries by Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement officers in Sacred Falls State Park, officials said.

Hittner described his near miss with the rockfall as “15 seconds of terror,” officials said.

He was among a group of six that included Hawaii residents and a visiting Australian who all received citations, authorities said.

Sacred Falls park has been closed and warning signs posted since a 1999 accident left eight people dead and dozens hurt, officials said.

“When people enter closed areas such as Sacred Falls they expose themselves to flash floods, rockfalls, or slip and fall injuries along cliffs and unmanaged rough terrain — incidents that are potentially fatal,” said Curt Cottrell, a state parks administrator.

The state has extensively publicized the dangers of entering closed areas, including a video about Sacred Falls, according to the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

As of May, the video has been viewed 657 times, officials said.

“This reckless behavior is a personal choice versus accidental injuries in managed recreational areas, and egregiously risks our first responders and enforcement officers’ safety,” Cottrell said.

Kaiser sues hospital system for billing practices

HONOLULU (AP) — Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Inc. has filed a federal lawsuit against a Hawaii hospital system over a change in billing practices, officials said.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday was the result of The Queen’s Health Systems plan to directly bill Kaiser for members’ emergency medical services beginning May 31, news organizations reported Thursday.

Kaiser has been unable since 2017 to reach an agreement to renew an emergency services contract with the nonprofit health care organization that expired May 30.

Kaiser members would be responsible for claims not reimbursed 100 percent by the health plan, Queen’s Chief Financial Officer Michel Riccioni said in a June 3 letter.

Queen’s would not notify or seek clearance from Kaiser for services provided to members, who would be billed for any claim not reimbursed by Kaiser, Riccioni said.

While the Queen’s system is no longer part of the Kaiser network, Queen’s facilities by law must treat Kaiser members requiring emergency care.

“While we do not comment on pending litigation, we can say that we will continue to ensure all patients who seek our help, regardless of insurance coverage, receive the highest quality of care,” said Queen’s spokeswoman Minna Sugimoto.

The California-based health maintenance organization called the change “unfair billing practices” that its members are “not legally obligated to pay.”

“We cannot agree to QHS demands for unreasonable rate increases,” said Kaiser spokeswoman Laura Lott. “Such payments are unsustainable and would greatly increase medical inflation and escalate the overall cost of care for all Hawaii residents.”

Remains of US sailor who died at Pearl Harbor accounted for

BOSTON (AP) — The remains of a sailor from Massachusetts lost during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor have been accounted for.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced Thursday that Navy Seaman 1st Class Frank Hryniewicz was accounted for on Jan. 28.

Hryniewicz was 20 years old and on the crew of the USS Oklahoma when it was hit with torpedoes during the 1941 attack. It capsized the battleship and killed 429 crewmen.

Hryniewicz’s remains were among those recovered over the next few years but ruled unidentifiable and buried in Hawaii.

They were exhumed in 2015 and identified using dental, anthropological and DNA analysis.

The military says Hryniewicz was from the Three Rivers section of Palmer.

More than 200 sets of remains from the Oklahoma have been identified.

Power outage at Honolulu airport sparks travel delays

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii officials say a power outage at Honolulu’s international airport has caused travel delays.

Department of Transportation spokesman Tim Sakahara says the power went out in Terminal 1 at Daniel K. Inouye International around 9:15 a.m. Wednesday. The outage was confined to Terminal 1 and the flight control tower at the airport never lost power.

Security checkpoints at the terminal were not operational and there was no electricity at the gates, causing a backup for departing passengers.

About an hour after the outage, officials announced that power had been restored.

Sakahara said there was no threat of a security breach as areas with electronically locked doors were also being monitored by airport security.

Terminal 1 primarily services Hawaiian Airlines but travelers can access all airlines through any terminal at the airport.

State/In Brief

The Associated Press

Budget has $13M for beach restoration

HONOLULU — The state budget passed by the Hawaii Legislature includes funding for repairs at Waikiki Beach, officials said.

The Legislature approved about $13 million for improvements to the crumbling Royal Hawaiian seawall and other man-made structures at the state’s most visited beach, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Sunday.

“This is the largest appropriation for beach improvements on Oahu in recent memory. It allows us to move forward on several projects that have been discussed on and off for decades,” said Dolan Eversole of the University of Hawaii.

The $13 million is sufficient to shore up the Royal Hawaiian seawall between the Waikiki Sheraton and Royal Hawaiian hotels and return a seawall to Kuhio Beach, which officials said have been failing for years.

Waikiki’s overhaul is scheduled to start in late summer or early fall. Previously there was no timeline for replacing the structures protecting the beach from erosion.

“There used to be a wait-and-see sentiment among some,” Eversole said. “But there has been a shift in overall perception, and people seem to feel that we can’t wait any longer to address these challenges.”

Waikiki Beach is considered the epicenter of tourism on Oahu, which last year had more than 5.9 million visitors, or about 60 percent of the state’s 10 million visitors. The visits generated more than $8 billion in spending, or about 46 percent of $17.8 billion in statewide spending, officials said.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority supports state efforts to protect Waikiki Beach.

“Today, it is one of the most renowned beaches in the world and is also tremendously important to the Hawaii brand image,” authority President Chris Tatum said.

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Rail recovery plan delivered to Feds

HONOLULU — The head of Honolulu’s planned rail line has submitted a revised recovery plan for the $9.2 billion project.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation CEO Andrew Robbins hand-delivered the plan to federal officials in San Francisco on Friday.

The Federal Transit Administration has been withholding about $744 million in promised funding until it approves an updated recovery plan.

The agency demanded that the city submit a recovery plan when the project’s price tag jumped from $5.3 billion.

The City Council approved the plan by an 8-1 vote on Wednesday. Councilwoman Heidi Tsuneyoshi was the lone “no” vote.

The 20-mile long rail line is due to connect Honolulu’s western suburbs to the airport, downtown and the Ala Moana Center, Oahu’s biggest mall.

Jury clears cops in stun gun death

HONOLULU (AP) — A federal jury in Honolulu has found police did not use excessive force against a man who died after being pepper sprayed and shot with a stun gun, a report said.

The jury ruled Thursday against the family of 38-year-old Sheldon Haleck in the $3 million lawsuit, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

The plaintiffs argued the officers’ actions did not comply with use of force standards.

Haleck died in March 2015 after officers used pepper spray about a dozen times and shot him with a Taser three times within five minutes, authorities said.

Haleck was on methamphetamine while walking through traffic, police said.

Haleck’s family brought the lawsuit against three officers. Such cases do not normally reach trial but the city chose not to settle, the newspaper reported.

An autopsy report attributed Haleck’s death to a physical altercation while acutely intoxicated with methamphetamine.

State official: Hundreds of homeless die on street

Caldwell: Statistics are a wake-up call

HONOLULU (AP) — Hundreds of homeless people in Hawaii died over the last five years, according to a medical examiner.

Analysis by Honolulu Chief Medical Examiner Christopher Happy found 373 people were considered homeless at the time of their deaths on Oahu from 2014 to 2018, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Wednesday.

Causes of death varied, although disease and narcotics use were common, Happy said.

“Compared to Oahu’s general population those who are homeless have a higher rate of death from drug abuse, infectious diseases, and in far too many instances, they fall victim to homicide,” Happy said. “It’s clear from the data that we gathered that living on the streets leads to an early death.”

The analysis found the average age of the deceased homeless people was about 53 years old, nearly 30 years below the average lifespan in Hawaii.

Investigations into the deaths of homeless people are made more difficult due to a lack of social and familial ties, which are often used to determine the circumstances surrounding how someone dies, Happy said.

The statistics are “a sobering wake-up call,” said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

“The truly compassionate thing to do for our homeless population is to get them into shelter and off our streets where statistics show they are more likely to die at a relatively early age,” Caldwell said.

Man dies after leaping into ocean from cliff

HONOLULU (AP) — A man has died after leaping into the ocean at an isolated Hawaii cliff where another person was critically injured days earlier, officials said.

The 22-year-old man died Wednesday after jumping at Spitting Cave on Oahu, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported. The Honolulu Medical Examiner’s Office identified him as Matthew R. Forero-Pinilla and called his death an accidental drowning.

Honolulu firefighters had responded to a report of a swimmer in distress, learning Forero-Pinilla took the 60-foot plunge at Spitting Cave, resurfaced and then went under again, authorities said.

Firefighters initially tried to dive to reach him but couldn’t bring him up. A scuba diver found him 60 feet underwater, authorities said.

A Honolulu Fire Department rescue boat transported Forero-Pinilla in critical condition to Maunalua Bay Beach Park. Crews kept treating him on the way to a hospital, where he died.

Ocean conditions Wednesday were windy, choppy and dangerous, officials said.

The fatality was the sixth time in two weeks that authorities responded to swimmers in trouble at Spitting Cave and at China Walls, which are both in the Portlock area of Honolulu.

Authorities say a 21-year-old was in critical condition after being rescued at Spitting Cave on Saturday.

Honolulu Ocean Safety officials have urged the public to refrain from jumping into the ocean at the isolated spots.

“Do not go in the water,” said J.R. Sloane, captain of Ocean Safety’s east district, who said the simple message will “save lives — especially when cliffs are involved.”