Apparent drowning highlights safety concerns at ‘Spitting Caves’

Mother Nature can be quite breathtaking off East Oahu, particularly at the area known as “Spitting Caves.”

“This place at sunset is absolutely the most beautiful place on the island, I think. So, I think they love that and just the cliffs are really pretty,” said Rachel Pugina, a Laie resident.

But Mother Nature can also be unforgiving.

On Saturday afternoon, a 19-year-old man jumped into the water, but had trouble getting out. Lifeguards responded on jet skis from nearby Maunalua Bay and found the man about 10 feet under water. He was taken to the hospital in critical condition, where he was pronounced dead.

“Spitting Caves” isn’t off-limits to the public, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe. We learned that in the last five years, several people have died there.

“When you see people jump into the water, why do you think they do it?” KHON2 asked.

“I think they do it for themselves. I think they do it for their Instagram to see how many likes they can get. They like the thrill,” said Leena Kilpelainen, a Laie resident.

“Do you think a lot of it is due to the adventure and thrill seeking?” KHON2 asked.

“Oh, definitely. Like Hawaii, I know, especially like visitors, people that come to Hawaii, they come here to like have fun and do things they wouldn’t normally do. So I think that a lot of it is adrenaline and people just want to say they’ve done it,” said Jordan Collins, a Laie resident.

Rep. Gene Ward says he’s concerned for the safety of his residents and others.

We wanted to know if anything can be done to prevent future injuries and deaths.

“Do you think there needs to be more education to the public?” KHON2 asked.

“Definitely. Definitely need more education. I’d like to see educational YouTubes that can be made,” said Rep. Ward, (R) Hawaii Kai, Kalama Valley.

He also believes the signs leading to the scenic lookout should be upgraded to say, “No Jumping.”

“You can be Eddie Aikau, you can be George Helm, but these waters are not anything to play with. Don’t tempt the hand of fate. This is for not swimming, it’s for only visual appreciation. Not for jumping in and enjoyment. It’s to look, but don’t touch,” Rep. Ward  said.

Officials with Emergency Services say they don’t recommend anyone jumping into the water since it’s easy to get into trouble.

Related story: Man pulled from waters off Portlock dies

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