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No charges will be filed in Memorial Day fight death

By Gregg K. Kakesako

LAST UPDATED: 2:18 p.m. HST, Jun 7, 2011

The city Prosecutor's Office has decided not to press charges against a 28-year-old man in connection with a fight on Memorial Day at Heeia Kea Pier in Kaneohe which ended in the death of a 26-year-old Kaneohe man.

The Medical Examiner's Office identified the victim as Nelden Torres.  He died Monday at a hospital where he had been taken in critical condition following the fight.

The Medical Examiner's Office said today that Torres died of bleeding in the brain due to blunt force trauma, and determined the manner as homicide.

Torres had alcohol and cocaine in his system, the Honolulu Medical Examiner's Office found.

Police had responded to a fight 6 p.m. May 30 and found a man unconscious and with head injuries near the boat launch area.

A 28-year-old man was arrested Thursday on suspicion of first-degree assault following a police CrimeStoppers request on Wednesday seeking witnesses and information concerning the fight.

However, the Prosecutor's Office decided not to press charges since witnesses told police that Torres sought out the suspect at the Kaneohe pier. The suspect apparently was acting in self-defense, a spokesman for the Honolulu prosecutor said.

The victim apparently threw the first punch and was injured when he fell and hit his head on the asphalt, the spokesman said.

There have been calls to prohibit drinking at the sandbar, require permits for concerts, ban concerts and make it a bird sanctuary because of problems caused by the large crowds on holidays. 

At low tide about three acres of sand at Ahu o Laka are exposed. Heeia Kea Pier is the nearest access point to the mid-bay sandbar. 

During the memorial Day weekend, Heeia Kea Pier was busy with people loading and unloading boats for trips to the Ahu o Laka sandbar. The state Department of Land and Natural Resources estimates that there were more than 200 boats and 500 people on the sandbar on Memorial Day Monday.

Seven land department conservation officers patrolled the sandbar and harbor area during Memorial Day but had already left the area when the fight occurred. Three were assigned to Heeia Pier, and four were on two patrol boats at Ahu o Laka or in the bay, Ward said.

In 2007 three men were treated for injuries they sustained on the sandbar after a fight broke out on Labor Day and the state stepped up patrols in Kaneohe Bay on holiday weekends.

Former Gov. Linda Lingle in 2006 vetoed a bill that would have made Ahu O Laka a state monument, allowing the Department of Land and Natural Resources to draft stricter rules to control activity there.

Another brawl happened on Labor Day in 2005. Enforcement officers estimated that more than 400 people and 60 or 70 boats were at the sandbar. One young woman nearly drowned and when her brother tried to help her, he was cut on the head by someone wielding a beer bottle.

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