Maryland health
officials probe isle
student’s death

The Big Islander died with flulike
symptoms shortly after his arrival

Maryland health authorities are investigating the death of 22-year-old Big Island resident Simon Hultman, after the Washington College student developed flulike symptoms.

Hultman died Monday after he was airlifted to the University of Maryland Medical Center shortly after the start of a new semester. He had arrived in Chestertown, Md., for the start of classes Jan. 14, said Washington College spokesman John Buettner.

Five days after arriving, Hultman went to the emergency room at the Chester River Hospital Center, complaining of flulike symptoms. Because of Hultman's travels, the physician on duty recommended he be tested at the University of Maryland Medical Center for serious illnesses that can cause the symptoms.

Physicians have ruled out severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and meningitis and were testing for a dozen other illnesses that can cause "flulike" symptoms, according to Buettner.

Hultman's death has been reported to Maryland health authorities as a matter of routine, Buettner said.

Hultman, of Nanawale Estates south of Hilo, was an intelligent, outgoing person who quoted the Bible and discussed a wide range of ideas, said longtime friend Damon Nagasawa.

"He was very good with words. He was always reading," Nagasawa said. "His conversations were so in depth. You could debate him about anything. He was always well versed in the Bible."

The Hawaii Department of Health said routine monitoring showed flu and flulike illnesses peaked on the Big Island in the week Hultman left Hawaii. Monitoring is continuing, although no special problems are being seen, the department said.

Hultman was "a brilliant kid," said Nagasawa's father, Ken, whose family attended the Puula United Church of Christ in Nanawale with the Hultman family.

Hultman was a senior majoring in international studies with a concentration in East Asian studies. He spent part of his sophomore year at Meiji Gakuin in Japan and last semester at the University of Pecs in Hungary, Buettner said.

Hultman had a girlfriend he met in Japan who came to Hawaii to visit him a few times, Nagasawa said.

One of eight brothers and sisters, Hultman was in good health when he left Hawaii, said his oldest brother, Jack.

"I think he caught it on the jet," he said.

Hultman's mother and other members of his family had flown from Hawaii to be at his side.

Washington College officials alerted the campus to report any flulike symptoms, and Hultman's dormitory suite was sterilized, Buettner said.

No other complaints have surfaced, said Buettner.

The campus planned to hold a memorial service today.

Star-Bulletin reporter Rod Thompson and the Associated Press contributed to this report.


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