Autopsy shows Kona man struck by swordfish died of internal injuries

Autopsy results were released Tuesday for the victim of a swordfish encounter in Kailua-Kona.

The medical examiner says Randy Llanes, 47, a local fisherman, died from internal injuries caused by being struck by the bill of a swordfish. His death was ruled an accident.

Llanes jumped into the water with a spear gun on Friday, May 29, after the swordfish was spotted in Honokohau Harbor.

Responding to a 10:48 a.m. call that day, police learned that Llanes speared the swordfish in the harbor, and as the fish thrashed about, it impaled Llanes, leaving a puncture wound to his chest.

Hawaii County Fire Department personnel responded to the scene and attempted CPR. They took Llanes to Kona Community Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 11:30 a.m.

Acting Sgt. David Matsushima of the Kona patrol said that after the fish got hit with Llanes’ spear, “the fish got wrapped around a mooring anchor, came back and swam at him.”

The swordfish measured about three feet long with a bill length of about three feet and weighed about 40 pounds.

Dale Leverone, a friend of Llanes, called him “just a great local boy. A good attitude, good person, a help-anybody kind of guy. He had a heck of a lot of friends. It’s pretty sad, pretty tragic.

“Randy has been fishing all his life. He’s a pretty accomplished fisherman. He actually caught a 500-pound marlin yesterday out of his skiff.”

Leverone went on to say that Llanes “got married in the last few years, he’s got a son that’s about five (years old)… It’s just pretty shocking for the whole harbor.”

Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo

Swordfish are usually found in deeper water.

Sometimes during the daytime they swim near the surface. Experts say it’s very unusual for swordfish to be in shallow water, but it does happen.

“There are two possible reasons,” said Dr. Andrew Rossiter, director of The Waikiki Aquarium. “One may be the fish was following a school of fish into the shallow water, the other reason is maybe the fish was injured in some way or somehow impaired.”

While there have been incidents between humans and swordfish in the past, Dr. Rossiter says an incident like this one is rare.

“This is very, very unusual,” he said. “There have been a couple of cases documented in the past, but almost always it can be attributed to an unfortunate accident or the fish being injured.”

Back in 2003, Mark Ferrari, a whale researcher, was gored by a marlin off West Maui.

He was filming false killer whales during a feeding frenzy when the marlin they were feeding on darted away and pierced Ferrari’s shoulder with its bill.

Ferrari survived.

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