Boater pleads guilty to damaging Kona coral


A German tourist pleaded guilty Thursday to damaging coral in Kailua Bay.

Hurst Lehmann, 59, entered the plea during his arraignment before District Court Judge Joseph P. Florendo.

Lehmann said he came to Hawaii Island for an overnight trip. He said he checked at Honokohau Harbor for a place to moor for the evening, and someone there told him to anchor in Kailua Bay.

“I did this in sand,” Lehmann said. “The wind was changing and the chain was over coral. There was not much damage. The chain was just laying on coral.”

Florendo sentenced Lehmann to the mandatory minimum $100 fine, plus $30 in court fees. Lehmann indicated he was ready to pay the fee Thursday. He said he plans to leave the state on Sunday.

Florendo paused proceedings after initially calling Lehmann’s case, to find a German interpreter. Lehmann said he generally understood the charges that were read in English. The interpreter did translate the charges and a few other statements by Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Terri Fujioka-Lilley.

Fujioka-Lilly recommended Florendo impose only the minimum for the conviction, which was Lehmann’s first such charge. She said a Department of Land and Natural Resources officer investigated a report about the chain damaging coral.

“(Lehmann) was very apologetic,” she said.

A swimmer reported seeing the chain on the coral earlier this month. She took several pictures and provided them to the DLNR for the investigation.

Email Erin Miller at emiller@westhawaiitoday.com.

 

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