Letters for Saturday, October 18, 2008

• Princeville wants ocean safety

• Preventing loss of life

Princeville wants ocean safety

In response to the letter by Gary Hudson (“Princeville, most dangerous community,” Letters, Oct. 17) regarding his hostile comments condemning the residents of Princeville as neglectful about the dangers of Queen’s Bath, I wish to state the following:

First of all Queens Bath, the trail, the parking lot and the signs are all the responsibility of Kauai County, not the Princeville community. The upkeep of the trail, maintenance, including trash left by visitors, and danger signs are not due to negligence by Princeville residents.

I frequently walk by this area and have been concerned about the dangers to visitors and the signs posted being hidden by overgrowth of trees and vegetation.

I have made frequent attempts to reach the responsible authority to state my concerns.  Upon my inquiries I have been referred to the County Parks division and have been advised my concerns would be relayed to the “appropriate” department. I also asked for a return call but to no avail.

I have neighbors and I know that they, and other residents, have made calls and attempts to contact various visitor promotional publications, to express their concerns about the dangers of promoting the trail and Queen’s Bath pool.

These requests have all been rejected and the promotions continue to be published.

Several years ago as I was walking near the trail entrance, I observed two men dash out of a car that was dropping them off for the trail. They were laughing and anxious about the adventure. I advised them of the dangers, told them please be careful, but they smiled and ran forward. It was in The Garden Island the next day … the tragic drowning of these two. They were relatives and visiting from the Mainland. Both policemen. I was saddened.

Upon reading of the recent deaths of the two ladies visiting, I once again felt sadness, but I had just returned from a Mainland visit and was not here to have warned them, just in case I was walking by this time again.

I have lived near the Queen’s Bath entrance for nine years. I have never gone down the slippery trail nor into the pool of water, which in the summer months is stagnant and contaminted. Please protect our visitors from the rogue wave which can sweep them out to their deaths in the winter months.

• JoEllen Chenoweth,  Princeville

Preventing loss of life

Imagine if you will for a moment a family putting away their savings for a few years, hoping to finally take a trip to Hawai‘i on a well deserved vacation, only to have the worst thing imaginable happen.

This scenario played itself out once again this past week as two women were swept to their deaths.

I was there to witness this horrific tragedy, and as I watched the surviving families arrive at the police station, I felt deeply saddened. The women from Bridges of Hawaii (hospice) were there to meet them and provide them with much needed consolation. My sadness gave way to anger with the thought that this awful event could have been prevented.

As an EMS worker, the call to respond to Queen’s Bath occurs far too often. Extremity fractures, head injuries, life-long debilitating spinal injuries, heat exhaustion, heart attacks and death by drowning occur at an alarming rate. Extrications of injured people are extremely difficult and hazardous to rescue personnel. Extrication from the tidepool area involves 200 yards over rough, uneven, often slippery terrain. This recent event left two rescue/firemen in the ocean for over 30 minutes treading water outside the breakers. The fearless, highly skilled, water safety personnel are also put at extreme risk during rocky shoreline rescues.

Some 90 percent of the year, this rugged coastline is impacted by rough and uneven tradewind swell. Coastline conditions worsen during fall and winter months with deep open ocean swell trains expending tremendous amounts of energy on the rocky coast with no extra words of caution or warnings to unsuspecting visitors of these deteriorating conditions.

Exclusion of these hazardous sites in visitor information/guidebooks would be a start in the prevention of these tragic events. The promotion of these treacherous areas as “visitor destinations” has got to stop. To recommend and direct people off the beaten path to these dangerous sites is way out of line and recklessly misleading to visitors. I know I would feel horrible if I directed someone to one of these areas and they lost their life. Would it be such a big put out for the visitor information books to exclude these danger zones? Kaua‘i has an abundance of beauty that can be viewed from safe areas.

To not learn from this event and not act prudently would be a tragedy in itself, and would carry the awful scent of negligence.

I call on county officials to act boldly and make a critical decision to help preserve future visitors’ safety. Public access is not the priority in this issue. The priority is preventing loss of life and to stop promoting such dangerous places as “must see” visitor destinations. Before this area was advertised in the visitor information books as a visitor destination, very few people went down to the Queen’s Bath coastline except for the occasional shoreline fisherman, opihi picker, or skindiver who were aware of the dangers and risks. Now at times, it is a common sight to see over 60 people venturing to this danger zone. Once we close this area as a “visitor destination” the area can eventually return as an access to those who seek gathering rights.

There is much more we can do, and prevention can be the most useful tool we possess, and certainly our ounce of prevention will outweigh a ton of needless grief.

Personally, I’d rather see someone crying about a fence blocking a trailhead, instead of seeing a distraught family crying over their lost loved ones.

• Christopher Waite, Kilauea

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