State investigates Kapena Falls death, safety measures

In the past decade, fire rescue crews have responded to Kapena Falls in Nuuanu on nine occasions.

Two of the incidents were apparent drownings, including Monday’s tragedy involving Moanalua High School senior Leighton Mow.

Many of the incidents were people who either fell or dove into the water.

Kapena Falls is under the jurisdiction of the state. In a statement to KHON2, the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) says it is conducting an investigation into Monday’s tragedy and the staff extends their condolences to the family of the young man.

While KHON2 was at Kapena Falls on Tuesday, we came across a staffer with DLNR, who said the agency is considering placing warning signs in the area. The only signs there now are those that warn people that they could contract the disease leptospirosis while in the water.

The staffer also said the DLNR is thinking about cutting the rope that people use to swing from shore onto the water and trimming back vegetation on the trail that leads to the falls.

Annette Kaohelauii, founder of the Hawaii Ecotourism Association, says residents and visitors alike should do research before venturing into any outdoor location.

“People need to understand that nature is not necessarily your best friend,” she said. “It’s risky. You can fall, you can slip and injure yourself. Things can happen.”

Kaohelauii recommends that people check the weather conditions and try to talk to someone familiar with that destination to understand what risks you may encounter.

“People just need to realize that going outdoors has its risks,” said Kaohelauii. “This is not Disneyland. It’s a real place.”

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