Police rule out foul play in death of visitor pulled from the Ala Wai Canal
The Honolulu Police Department said Thursday that it has classified the death of a Minnesota visitor, whose body recently was found in the Ala Wai Canal, as an “unattended death.”
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The Honolulu Police Department said Thursday that it has classified the death of
a Minnesota visitor, whose body recently was found in the Ala Wai Canal, as an “unattended death.”
The body of 51-year-old Shannon Bartholomew of Minneapolis was discovered in the canal the morning of Sept. 23, the last day of her Hawaii vacation.
Shortly after the incident, Police Homicide Lt. Dina Thoemmes said that the case was classified as “suspicious” due to the position that the woman’s body was in when it was discovered. Authorities said that Bartholomew had been bound.
But now HPD spokeswoman Michelle Yu is saying that “the investigation has revealed there was no foul play, and we are currently awaiting autopsy results. Police are not looking for a suspect.”
A spokeswoman for the Medical Examiner’s Office said autopsy results are still pending. However, police
appear to think that Bartholomew’s death was either an accident or a suicide.
If Bartholomew’s death is ruled as a suicide, it would become part of an all-too-common scenario for the state’s visitor industry. Suicide is the fifth-highest cause of visitor deaths in the state, said Daniel Galanis, state Department of Health epidemiologist. Also, suicides by visitors comprised roughly 4% of the state’s overall suicides, some 170 in 2018, Galanis said.
Jerry Dolak, Hawaii Hotel Visitor Industry Security Association president, said all visitor destinations deal with suicide, and Hawaii isn’t an exception.
“Suicides among visitors happen — that’s why we have a whole security chapter on how to respond,” Dolak said. “There’s no specific place that it occurs, and it happens in every imaginable way. The whys vary, but it’s a way for visitors to die without leaving a mark in their homes or scaring family members.”
Jessica Lani Rich, president and CEO of the Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii, said the organization often gets
referrals to deal with the
aftermath of suicide. While VASH responds to visitors in crisis in Hawaii, it also assists their families.
“Sadly, we’ve had our fair share of suicides,” Rich said. “Usually the ones that we see are people who are terminally ill and don’t want to be a burden on their families, or visitors that are suffering from mental illness.”
Rich deferred to police regarding the circumstances surrounding Bartholomew’s death. However, she said VASH has reached out to
the woman’s family to offer assistance.
Rich said Bartholomew’s son told her that she had been on an unaccompanied 18-day trip to Hawaii that had started Sept. 5. Bartholomew at one time had worked in advertising and was the mother of three grown children ages 29, 27 and 25 and had a 4-year-old granddaughter, Rich said.