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Monday, November 6, 2000

Two hikers
found dead at
lava flow

The Volcanoes Park hikers had
severe burns; cause of
death is unknown

By Rod Thompson

HAWAII VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK -- Two hikers were found dead of unknown causes about four miles from the end of Chain of Craters Road at midday yesterday, according to a park ranger at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Their names were withheld pending notification of their next of kin.

The two, a man and a woman, had apparently walked across a series of lava flows that had been deposited in the area in the last decade. They were found near where a current lava flow enters the ocean, said ranger Doug Lentz.

Rangers were notified about the bodies by a cell phone call at about 1:30 p.m., Lentz said. The park used a private helicopter to fly rangers to the scene, and the bodies were retrieved by a Hawaii County helicopter.

Hiking to the lava flow is permitted, but signs in the immediate area warn not to go farther, Lentz said. Officials at the park were not immediately clear on where the bodies were.

The park advises anyone hiking in the area to have sturdy boots, lots of drinking water, protection from sun and rain, and flashlights. Park officials had no information on how the hikers were equipped.

Lentz said the hikers had suffered severe burns but were fully clothed, so it was difficult to determine the extent of their burns. They also had cuts and bruises on their hands, knees and heads.

They were found on high ground, not down on a "bench" of fresh lava at the water's edge, where signs prohibit hiking, Lentz said.

"They were up where the general public is allowed to be."

An autopsy will be done to determine cause of death, he said.

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