The state has arrested a tour guide who was allegedly involved in conducting an illegal commercial lava tour.
The tour allegedly took place within the Kahaualea Natural Area Reserve, which was closed by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources due to hazardous conditions related to ongoing volcanic activity in the area.
An investigation conducted by Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement officers resulted in the arrest of Joel D. Scharer Jr., 24, of Hilo.
Scharer was transported to the Hilo Police Station for booking.
The state says he is being charged with the following: criminal trespass in the 2nd degree which is a petty misdemeanor, and reckless endangering in the second degree, prohibited entry into a natural area reserve and illegal commercial activities within the natural area reserve, all of which are misdemeanor offenses.
“The safety of the public remains our top priority,” said Carty S. Chang, interim DLNR chairperson. “Illegal commercial tours into areas closed by volcanic activity are dangerous to both the public as well as rescue responders. Violators will face citation or arrest.”
To report suspected trespass or illegal commercial activity within the closed Kahaualea NAR as well as the closed Wao Kele O Puna Forest Reserve, call DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) at 643-DLNR.