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8 more lava loiterers cited, drone confiscated

  • COURTESY DLNR

    Three people from Pahoa were photographed before being cited for loitering by DLNR officers. The agency obscured the faces of the trio.

State officials said that eight more people have been cited for loitering in the East Rift Eruption Zone in Puna on Hawaii island, seven of them in the last 24 hours, bringing the total, so far, to about 90 since early May.

The state’s Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement officers cited three people at about 8:15 p.m. Monday. DOCARE officers found the trio standing on hardened lava near Railroad Avenue and Papaya Farms Road, approximately 60 feet from the active lava channel. Malaika Maphalala, 49, Ralph Unger, 41 and Kumsa Maphalala, 18, all of Pahoa, were cited.

Early this morning, a U.S. Geological Survey field crew that was mapping the lava flow with a drone reported spotting an unauthorized drone circling fissure 8 and flying back toward Lava Tree State Park. Hawaii County police and DOCARE officers searched the area around the park, but did not find anyone.

During checks on Forest Road and in Nanawale Estates, they ticketed a vehicle in front of a barricade for obstructing traffic and numerous equipment infractions.

They also cited four people inside two barricaded areas for loitering in a disaster zone today, and confiscated a drone from one of them. David and Sunnee Bishop, 40, of Hong Kong, along with Burke Holbrook, 42, and Nancy Holbrook, 43, of Honolulu, were cited.

On July 15, officers also cited Aaron Spicer, 27, of New Hampshire after he allegedly circumvented a checkpoint on Highway 132 on a motorcycle, and past several, coned-off roads and a cement barricade to enter Lava Tree State Park. Officers also cited him for an expired safety check.

Under an emergency proclamation by Gov. David Ige, anyone convicted of loitering in the eruption zone could face up to $5,000 in fines and one year in jail.

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