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Family of man killed in zipline fall reaches settlement with Hawaii County


    The zipline operation of Kapohokine Adventures in Paukaa on Hawaii island. A worker was killed and another critically injured when a zipline tower collapsed Sept. 21, 2011 on Hawaii island.


    Ted Callaway was killed in the zipline accident in Paukaa on Sept. 21, 2011.

The Hawaii County Council has agreed to a settlement involving the death of a zipline worker who was testing a new facility in Hilo when the line came loose and he fell to his death in 2011.

Ted Callaway, 36, was test-riding the zipline when it slackened, plunging him 200 feet into a stream below. Another worker, Curtis Wright, 43, fell 30 feet from the tower, suffering critical injuries.

The Hawaii Tribune Herald today said Big Island County Council on Tuesday voted 8-1 to settle for $26,400 without admitting liability. The county was sued on the basis of permits it issued for the wooden towers that served as staging areas for the ziplines. A county attorney said the permit application characterized the towers as “observation towers,” rather than having anything to do with the zipline itself.

The family of Callaway, who’s from Maui, sued the county as well as a long list of zipline contractors and employment companies involved in the Paukaa construction site on behalf of six minor children.

The Hawaii Occupational Safety and Health Division issued three citations totaling $13,500 in penalties against GoZip LLC of Maui.

A platform tower’s anchors were pulled out of the ground while Callaway was test-riding the zipline.

HIOSH cited GoZip for failing to use objective methods to verify that the anchors could support the loads of the towers, cables and riders or that the guy system could meet the requirements of the Association for Challenge Course Technology, of which GoZip is a member.

The agency also cited the company for failing to ensure that side rails of an extension ladder used to provide access to the landing tower extended at least three feet above the edge of the landing surface, and for failing to ensure that employees wore helmets

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  • We need tort reform in Hawaii, but don’t count on it happening soon as long as we have this liberal mentality. Why should the tax payers be a party to the lawsuit when our only reason is that we permitted the vendors to build the zipline? It makes no sense.

    • I believe that in the permit process, the permitting office reviews the design and determines that it is safe to use as intended. At least that’s what they pay their reviewers, engineers and inspectors to do.

      • The article says the permit application called them “observation towers” and said nothing about a zipline. But I can see why they settled, because Hawaii mentality is that when someone gets hurt or dies, the government should be forced to pay as if it’s just a big insurance company. And that IS the mentality in Hawaii, so some stupid jury would have awarded millions of dollars to the plaintiffs. Maipono is correct, we need tort reform in Hawaii, but that will never happen.

  • Zip-lines and ski-lifts operators all must have secured/certified anchors to insure safety for the paying customers. The licensing agency must provide effective oversight of the construction before certification be granted for public use. Company was in testing mode as the article indicate, so the question is why the county is liable?

  • Whenever the State or Counties allow activity on government property that is considered high risk, such as zip lines, they (government) should require agreements to defend and indemnify from the vendors in the event of claims such as this one. If the vendor is unable to prove that they have adequate insurance plus the agreement to defend/indemnify, then a permit for the activity should not be issued. Vendors of high-risk activities cannot demand that they be issued a permit, and there is a strong governmental interest in the safety of Hawaii’s citizens that would provide an adequate basis for denying permits in those instances.

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