Accident kills whale watcher
One person died and two were injured yesterday aboard a 55-foot whale-watching catamaran after the vessel's mast broke about three miles off Kahana Beach in West Maui.
Fifty-five people were aboard the Kiele V, including six crew members, when the mast broke at about 5:15 p.m., said Maui County spokeswoman Mahina Martin.
A 48-year-old man died, and two other passengers were taken to the Maui Memorial Medical Center in stable condition, she said.
Maui firefighters, police, the Coast Guard and two good Samaritans responded to help transport the passengers back to Maui.
All surviving passengers and crew made it off the vessel, which was left to sink, said Coast Guard spokesman Petty Officer Luke Clayton.
At about 6 p.m. the Coast Guard reached the scene with a 47-foot rescue boat, the icebreaker Polar Sea, which released several smaller boats, and the HH-65 Dolphin helicopter.
Winds were about 20 knots, or 22 mph, at the time, Clayton said.
The Kiele V is owned by the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa. A supervisor at the resort did not have any comment. On the Hyatt's Web site the Kiele V is described as "Maui's premiere sailing catamaran designed for speed, stability and luxury." It describes the vessel as spacious, semienclosed cabin with teak decks and a fully stocked bar.
"Our expert crew has earned a reputation built on pride, performance and experience," it said. An adult fare for the whale-watching tour is $60. The Coast Guard continues to investigate the accident.