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State roundup for February 26

Hawaii launches marketing blitz

HONOLULU (AP) — The Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau is aiming a half-million dollar marketing blitz at New York and Chicago.

The monthlong campaign aims to increase visitors from Hawaii’s two largest East Coast markets over the next several months. Mike McCartney, president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, says while Hawaii enjoyed a record number of visitors and spending last year, there appears to be room for growth this year.

The marketing campaign will run from February to March 17. The bureau says it is intended to send the message that Hawaii remains America’s favorite tropical destination.

Search for Navy SEAL called off

HONOLULU (AP) — Authorities have suspended the search for a Navy SEAL who went missing after he became separated from his unit during open ocean swim training off Oahu’s Kaena Point.

The Coast Guard said Sunday that its crew, Honolulu lifeguards and firefighters along with Navy and Marine Corps crews have been searching for the sailor since Tuesday. They searched over 24,000 square miles using aircraft, cutters and small boats but found no signs of him.

The sailor’s name was not released by the Coast Guard.

A call to a Navy spokesman was not immediately returned.

Family sues over police shooting

LIHUE, Kauai (AP) — The family of a man shot to death by Kauai police a year ago has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the department, Kauai County and the officer involved in the shooting.

The suit was filed by the family of Richard Louis in Fifth Circuit Court in Kauai.

Louis was killed as officers came to arrest him at his home on a $310,000 warrant.

Louis had missed a court hearing two months earlier where he was convicted of theft, gun and drug charges.

Police said the 62-year-old Louis barricaded himself in his home, ignored orders to surrender and threatened to kill an officer with a metal object.

Gregory Meyers, a lawyer for his family, said Louis’ home was surrounded; he posed no danger; and was not a flight risk.

The lawsuit accuses the agencies and officer of assault and battery, unlawful search and seizure, unnecessary use of deadly force, negligent training, intentional infliction of emotional distress and wrongful death.

Police Chief Darryl Perry said he could not comment on the events that led to the shooting because the case is still being investigated.

“However, I can say that our officers are highly trained in the use of deadly force as mandated by Hawaii Revised Statutes, and I stand firmly behind the necessary actions taken by the officer given the totality of circumstances,” Perry said.

Scientists seek to slow boats

HONOLULU (AP) — Some scientists are calling for stricter rules on boat traffic after a spate of collisions between vessels and endangered humpback whales in Hawaii waters.

If safeguards aren’t instituted, some scientists and environmentalists fear even more collisions will occur in the future.

Since the end of December, there have been nine reports of vessel-humpback whale collisions in Hawaii waters. Eight of those have occurred in the past month. Incidents include a report that on Feb. 14 a humpback was seen off Maui with propeller slices on its body. Two days later, a female whale and calf surfaced under a vessel and left blood in the water. The following day a vessel and whale collided off Lahaina and the whale’s left flank was bleeding.

Scientists say that reports of vessel-whale collisions increased from one to four per year in 2001-2005 to five to 11 per year in 2006-2010. The challenge, they say, is in determining the gravity of collisions. In most instances, the whales disappear before any injuries can be assessed.

“What’s the point of having a sanctuary if it’s not safe?” said researcher Marsha Green, referring to the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. The sanctuary is the only place designated as a protected habitat for humpback whales.

State and federal officials currently are reviewing a proposed management plan for the sanctuary, which was designated by Congress in 1992 and serves as a major calving area for female humpback whales during the winter migration from Alaska.

An advisory group has recommended a 16 mph speed limit on boats in the 1,370-square-mile sanctuary.


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