Editor’s Scratchpad

Friday, July 12, 2002

Fickle nature
gives little warning

Last Friday, the wind at the Halona Blowhole was brisk but not onshore and the eruptions of spray were erratic, impossible to predict.

A group of locals and tourists oohed with each geyser. Last week's tragedy was the subject of several conversations. An 18-year-old from Los Angeles had straddled the hole, was lifted into the air by a burst and fell to his death through the hole into the water below.

As I listened, a young man and two young women appeared on the wet shelf of rock below. After watching a few mild burps from the blowhole, two of them stood close to it, turned their backs to the ocean and smiled for a snapshot. We watched apprehensively.

"I'd never do that," a teenager said to no one in particular.

A big wave hit and spray suddenly shot 30 feet into the air. Laughing, the trio below ran to avoid the water.

The gate to the lower observation deck was padlocked. Next to the gate, facing away from the parking lot, was a single warning sign. I doubt this threesome ever saw it. They'd walked in from From Here to Eternity Beach.

Most Hawaii residents are aware of the ocean's power. Many visitors aren't. Some well-positioned, well-worded signs are in order.

--John Flanagan

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