Catamaran victim died of massive head injury
A 48-year-old Illinois man died from massive blunt trauma to his head aboard the Kiele V off Maui on Sunday after the mast snapped, an autopsy by the Maui County coroner's office found.
Hal Pulfer of Highland Park, Ill., was visiting Maui with his wife and three children, ages 7, 10 and 12 -- all of whom have left the island, said Maui County spokeswoman Mahina Martin.
Martin did not say how Pulfer received his injury, and said more details probably will be released after the Coast Guard concludes its investigation, which could last up to eight months.
Two others, a Kauai couple, were admitted to Maui Memorial Medical Center after the accident. The 57-year-old man was treated for contusions to his right eye, elbows and back, and was released Sunday night. The 46-year-old woman is still in the hospital being treated for head trauma, an eye injury and fractures to her spine, rib and left collarbone.
The Coast Guard has located the debris of the Kiele V, which sank about three miles off Kahana Beach, West Maui.
"The vessel went over a reef and broke into many large and small pieces," said Coast Guard spokesman Michael De Nyse.
Pieces of the Kiele V stretched over three miles near the southeastern waters of Molokai, De Nyse said. The Coast Guard is working with the owner of the Kiele V, which is operated by the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa, to salvage the catamaran.
After they recover the vessel, Coast Guard inspectors will try to determine why the mast snapped, De Nyse said. They have begun interviewing the other 46 passengers and five crew members on board.
The Coast Guard is also conducting an investigation into the separate death of a 13-year-old California boy who died after the masts snapped on the Na Hoku II in Waikiki on Dec. 1, 2006.
Despite news of the deaths, tourists and residents continued riding catamarans yesterday in Waikiki.
"(The news) didn't bother me at all," said Dawn Carrera, of Orange County, Calif., after she got off the Kepoikai II.
Kirk Stevenson, 29, of Sydney said the mast was the first thing he checked, but he planned to take another catamaran tour at sunset today.
Jay Santiago, captain of the Kepokai III, said business continued normally, though many passengers did ask about Sunday's incident and the safety of his boat's mast.