COURTESY PHOTO / DAVIS LEVIN LIVINGSTON GRANDE
A lawsuit says this sign, posted on the left side of a path off Kuamoo Road on Kauai, put a pair of hikers onto a trail that led to their deaths last December.
Lawsuit calls state warning sign deadly
Hikers eschewed one trail but died after they fell from an alternate
KAPAA, Kauai » The trail to the base of Opaekaa Falls remains closed almost a year after hikers and cousins Elizabeth Brem, 35, and Paula Gonzalez Ramirez, 29, died trying to reach the pool at the bottom.
The state closed the un-maintained, unmarked trail within days after Ramirez and Brem plunged to their deaths last December.
In a lawsuit filed last week in Kauai Circuit Court, the families of the California women contend that the state, which posted "Keep Out" signs in the area, actually caused the hikers to follow a steeper, more slippery path that led to the top of the 300-foot cliff from which they fell.
"The tragic deaths of these two women at this popular waterfall (site) was completely avoidable," said Mark Davis, the lawyer representing the Brem family, which includes Elizabeth Brem's two children, ages 6 and 2.
The way to Opaekaa Falls, which is listed in a number of guidebooks, crosses a stream and involves a walk down a steep path. The "Keep Out" sign was posted at the trail head. But another path, to the right of the normal trail, was the trail the two women took.
"Ms. Brem and Ms. Ramirez were not the type of people to ignore warning signs," Davis added. "They were cautious, responsible people."
The sign, he said, "led them down the dangerous paths to their deaths."
The lawsuit claims the state was negligent, and asks for damages for their wrongful death, their families' economic loss and the negligent infliction of emotional distress.