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Kauai residents debate hiker rescue bill

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LIHUE >> Hikers who ignore safety warning signs may have to pay the costs associated with their rescue under a new measure.

About 20 members of the public testified Wednesday on Bill 2589, which would allow government agencies involved in search-and-rescue operations to seek reimbursement from people who blatantly disregard safety warnings and notices, reported The Garden Island (http://bit.ly/1HBz7Jv).

At the meeting, Kauai residents questioned what did and did not constitute negligence under the bill.

Resident Kalyon Kubo asked what would happen if a person took a wrong turn on a trail, got lost and needed to be rescued.

“Was she negligent when she took that wrong turn? Think about it in that sense,” he said.

Alice Parker of Lihue said in that case, the situation would not be constituted as negligence.

“If someone takes a wrong turn on trails not well-marked, that’s not negligence,” she said. “I don’t think we pursue that. Trails that are used should be marked or you would be liable, I would say.”

Kauai County Councilman Mason Chock, who introduced the bill, said those who testified brought up good points. However, he wanted to stress that the purpose of the bill is to identify those who intentionally disregard their own safety.

“The specific purpose of this is bill is that we don’t want to go out there and start charging everybody for rescues,” Chock said. “It’s accomplishing one thing that’s significant: It’s putting into alignment the verbiage of intentional disregard of safety, which is the same verbiage used in the state HRS.”

The measure goes to the Public Safety Committee Wednesday.

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