State roundup for October 15
Whales spotted in state waters
HONOLULU (AP) — Humpback whales have begun arriving in Hawaii waters for mating season.
Two whales were spotted Oct. 4 off Maui and two more were sighted the week before.
The first whales were reported by crew from a sailing charter and from a Pacific Whale Foundation vessel.
Melissa Glennon, spokeswoman for Kai Kanani Sailing Charters, said one of the Oct. 4 sightings was of a young whale. She said crew members and passengers saw a couple of spouts from the mammal before it did a fluke-up dive, showing its tail before disappearing underwater.
“Just like that, it was gone,” Glennon said. “It is really exciting.”
Humpback whales spend summers feeding in Alaska. They mate and give birth off Hawaii.
The North Pacific population usually begins to arrive as early as September, although ocean tour operators last year spotted one Aug. 30 in Honokohau Harbor near Kona on Hawaii Island.
Peak humpback activity in Hawaii occurs between December and April.
The Pacific Whale Foundation estimates up to 12,000 humpback whales will winter in Hawaii waters. The foundation estimates the population is increasing by 5 to 7 percent each year.
Driver sought after hitting 3
HONOLULU (AP) — Honolulu police say a driver injured three pedestrians who were part of a crowd in Kahaluu.
The suspect is a 23-year-old man.
Police say an altercation began and the man afterward drove through the crowd, injuring a 21-year old man, a 20-year-old woman and a 25-year-old woman.
The suspect fled.
Police say they’re investigating the incident early Monday morning as a possible attempted murder.
Officer strikes, wounds cyclist
KAILUA, Hawaii (AP) — Honolulu police say a bicyclist was seriously injured after being struck by a police car in Kailua.
Police say the 27-year-old woman was hit when she crossed in front of the officer in the patrol car around 12:30 a.m. Sunday.
The woman was taken to the hospital in critical condition, and was later upgraded to serious condition.
The officer was not injured. The crash was under investigation.
Council members to look at reopening Haiku Stairs
HONOLULU (AP) — An ad hoc committee of Honolulu City Council members is looking into the possibility of reopening a popular trail dubbed “Stairway to Heaven.”
The Navy built the stairs at Windward Oahu’s Haiku Valley during World War II to access radio equipment at the mountain summit. They have been closed to the public since 1987.
That doesn’t stop hikers who climb the 2,800-foot path at night to avoid security during the day. Hiking and environmental groups want to see stairs reopened to give hikers access to the panoramic views but neighboring residents complain trespassing visitors trash the area.
The council group led by Council Parks Chairman Joey Manahan agreed to the requests of the nonprofit group Friends of Haiku Stairs to look into reopening the trail, but he said in a report last week he and his colleagues haven’t been able to physically inspect the trail because of insurance liability issues, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Monday.
The Honolulu Board of Water Supply, which maintains ownership of the trail, required that Manahan and three council members who wanted to visit be escorted by trail experts. The board also wanted the Friends of Haiku Stairs to carry a $1 million liability insurance policy before accessing the property.
The group is obtaining a new policy, which had lapsed years ago, said Vernon Ansdell, the group’s president.
Ansdell said giving hikers access to the Omega transmission station would reduce the need to park in front of homes or trespass to reach the stairs. It would also reduce the number of nighttime hikers seeking to bypass a guard posted there during the day, he said.
“If we could open the stairs, that would solve (the neighbors’) problem, and it would solve our problem,” he said.
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