Thursday, June 27, 2002

Rescue personnel tended to a woman who was rescued Tuesday night after seven hours at sea. She had been a passenger aboard a Jet Ski that apparently had an accident.

Investigation begins into
Salt Lake man’s drowning

He did not wear a life jacket as
he and a woman rode a Jet Ski

By Nelson Daranciang

The state Department of Land & Natural Resources is investigating the death of a 31-year-old Salt Lake man following an apparent thrill craft accident outside Maunalua Bay on Tuesday.

The Honolulu medical examiner said Ham Sun Ho drowned. His body and Jet Ski were found between a mile and 1.5 miles offshore on the Diamond Head end of the bay. The Coast Guard found his companion, a 30-year-old woman visiting from New York, near some cliffs on the Portlock end of the bay in a late-night rescue.

She was in guarded condition last night at Queen's Medical Center.

Because the incident involved a recreational vessel, the Coast Guard turned the investigation over to the state, which has jurisdiction over the near-shore waters of the bay, said Petty Officer Erica Ryan, Coast Guard spokeswoman.

Gary Moniz, the state Conservation and Enforcement Division administrator, confirmed his office is conducting the investigation, which he said could take a few days to complete.

Ham and the woman were kicked out of the private Hawaii Kai Marina about 4:15 p.m. Marina manager Beverly Liddle said the woman was operating the Jet Ski erratically.

Thrill craft like Jet Skis are not allowed into the waterway.

The marina association has two 17-foot Boston Whalers to enforce the ban and other marina rules, Liddle said. She said thrill craft do not enter the marina often.

"Just the occasional pranksters. They'll come in, stick their nose in, speed in, speed out," she said.

If the woman was operating the Jet Ski when she and Ham got separated from the vessel, that could explain why the woman had a whistle attached to her wrist when she was rescued, said June Freundschuh, owner of Aloha Ocean Sports Inc.

Freundschuh rents out Wave Runners for use in Maunalua Bay.

Most thrill craft like Wave Runners or Jet Skis feature a safety lanyard (bracelet) for operators to wear around their wrists, she said.

"So if they fall off, the key is pulled out of the ignition, automatically shutting off the engine," Freundschuh said. "Some people attach whistles to the lanyard," she said.

The woman's whistles caught the attention of some fishermen who called 911 about 11 p.m. Rescuers were able to locate the woman in the darkness less than 40 minutes after the call.

The woman also was wearing a life jacket.

According to his family members, Ham was a good swimmer. When rescuers recovered his body, he was not wearing a life jacket.

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