Saturday, November 8, 2003

Student Eun Jung Do was carried off the Falls of Clyde yesterday after falling 20 feet through a hole in the ship's bow.

Woman falls
through hole on
Falls of Clyde

Workers take nearly an hour
to rescue the Korean student

A 31-year-old Korean woman survived a 20-foot fall through a hole in the lower deck of the Falls of Clyde yesterday, landing on the rusty hull of the ship, where she lay for nearly an hour as rescuers worked to extricate her.

Eun Jung Do was hoisted from the ship's hold and sent to the Queen's Medical Center in stable condition, said Mandy Shiraki, district chief of Emergency Medical Services, one of 18 rescue workers who converged at Honolulu Harbor.

Do had been touring the four-masted ship, a National Historic Site, with 40 international students in the University of Hawaii's Outreach College when the tour guide unlocked a metal door marked "Crew Only" and ushered them into a restricted area.

The group walked through a workshop strewn with tools and paused to examine a steam engine, while a cluster of students and a teacher continued into the bow of the ship. Do disappeared after ducking through a low opening in a metal wall near the front of the ship, witnesses said.

"As soon as she entered the room, she fell," Imsook Lee, a classmate who was walking behind her, said through an interpreter. "She disappeared. I was very surprised.

"I called out to her, 'Are you all right?' There was no sound. I called again later, and she said 'yes' in Korean."

Nineteen-year-old Yuki Kawai, who was walking to her left, said Do fell into a hole 3 feet in diameter, although it was too dark to see at the time.

"I thought she fell down to water, but after the light came on, I could see she was on the boat," he said.

Fellow students waited for Eun Jung Do to be rescued yesterday after she fell through a hole on the Falls of Clyde.

Hawaii Maritime Center President Bill Brown said it was the first time there had been an accident in decades of tours of the 125-year-old ship, which is the only four-masted, full-rigged ship still afloat. He said the vessel is being renovated but is safe for tours.

"There is always potential for accidents everywhere, and we do everything we can to make sure tours are safe," he said. "It was an accident and it's unfortunate. She broke free on her own and went about 40 feet up into the bow of the ship in a place where you don't normally go."

But Do's classmates and English teacher said the guide had told them to go ahead. The teacher said she was too upset to be identified in print and referred questions to her boss.

"The tour guide encouraged the teacher and the students to keep going," said Judy Ensing, acting director of International Programs at UH Outreach College. "The teacher thought there was an exit. By the time she finally realized this is the front of the ship, the girl had fallen through."

In previous tours, Ensing noted, students have never been taken into the restricted area. Students in the program come from Japan, Korea and Taiwan to study English in Honolulu.

"My take on this is these students should not have been behind this gate at all," Ensing said after touring the site. "I would hope that they (ship officials) would take a look at their security measures so that they can prevent this kind of thing in the future."

Fire Capt. Kenison Tejada said the rescue was challenging because the woman was at the bottom of the ship.

Rescue workers climbed down and stabilized her with a stretcher, then maneuvered her through two levels of deck on a mechanical hoist before turning her sideways and pulling her up through the hatch. The rescue took about 45 minutes, he said.

"Thank goodness, she seems to be OK," Ensing said late yesterday. "We talked to her relatives at the hospital, and they said she didn't have any serious injuries. They were still checking for internal injuries, but she was alert and there were no broken bones."


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