State may change rules after diver hit, killed by boat off Lanikai

The Honolulu medical examiner says a man found in waters off Lanikai over the weekend was killed by a boat propeller.

Sri Shim, 59, was diving with his stepson when they were hit by a boat.

The stepson was rescued and taken to the hospital in serious condition.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources says it’s investigating the incident.

KHON2 asked the state about rules pertaining to divers and boaters. Divers are required by law to display a red-and-white colored flag when diving or swimming. It can be one dive flag per group, as long as they stay within a 100-foot radius from the flag.

“When you’re recreational diving, not commercial diving, you’re just out on your own. You’re letting people know here’s my flag, I’m not going to surface outside of this 100 feet,” explained Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation administrator Ed Underwood.

As for boaters, the state says all boaters must undergo mandatory boat education courses to prevent injury or death. Enforcement began November 2014.

A viewer pointed out that the rule applies only to, “any power driven vessel propelled by a motor greater than 10 horsepower.” 

“That’s what’s so important about the mandatory education rule is you need to know what all of this means. When you’re operating a boat, when you see a dive flag, you know to stay outside of the dive flag,” Underwood said.

Boats must slow down within 200 feet of a flag, and cannot get any closer than 100 feet. Anyone caught violating these rules can face prison time, or be fined up to $1,000.

The mandatory course was put in place partly because of two deadly incidents involving divers and boaters off Lanai and Maui within the last few years.

KHON2 asked if dive flags were used, and if the boater in Saturday’s incident took the mandatory safety course. “I don’t know. That’s under investigation now,” Underwood replied.

But once the investigation is complete, DLNR says the rules in Kailua could change.

“We would like to see what really happened out there, and we can go from there. We try to write the rules to increase safety. If that’s what it takes, it would,” Underwood said.

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