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Man pleads guilty to turtle smuggling

The 42 exotic turtles and tortoises discovered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials in a suitcase at Honolulu Airport this summer are worth $30,000 to $60,000 in the illegal, international pet trade, said federal prosecutor Thomas Brady.

The person accused of bringing the animals into Hawaii from Japan on Aug. 30, Hiroki Uetsuki, 36, pleaded guilty yesterday to smuggling the reptiles into the United States. He faces up to 20 years in prison at sentencing, which is scheduled for February.

Brady said there were 20 fly river turtles, 20 Burmese star tortoises and two white-fronted box turtles. They were in three containers with their own temperature and moisture control devices in the suitcase. Uetsuki has agreed to forfeit the animals to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.



Ailing hunter flown from Pahala trail

Hawaii County fire rescue personnel and paramedics stayed overnight Wednesday with a 33-year-old hunter stranded on Alii Springs Trail in Pahala. He was flown from the trail by helicopter yesterday morning.

The man, a member of a hunting party, had become dehydrated and could not hike out on his own, officials said.

The county Fire Department was notified at 4:58 p.m. Wednesday. The first unit arrived at 5:41 p.m.

Two fire rescue personnel and two paramedics stayed with the man until the airlift at daybreak. Three other members of the party hiked out with rescue personnel.


Rush of wind sweeps hotel, 4 are injured

Four people were injured Wednesday when a strong gust of wind flipped over lounge chairs, cabanas and a lifeguard tower at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel on the Kohala coast of the Big Island.

Firefighters took two people to the hospital with minor injuries. Two other people with minor injuries left without treatment.


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