Investigation into deadly Kailua boating incident handed over to prosecutors

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources says officers have finished their investigation into last month’s deadly incident between a boater and diver in Kailua.

The case has been sent to the Honolulu prosecutor’s office.

On Jan. 9, Sri Shim, 59, and his stepson, Trey Albrecht, 25, were diving off their kayak about 600 feet offshore when they were both struck by a boat.

Emergency crews found Shim’s body and the Honolulu Medical Examiner determined that he died from injuries from a boat propeller.

DLNR officers have been investigating the incident for the past month, so we wanted to know how they’re trained to investigate a possible homicide.

The boater, Sai Hansen, was cited for not having a mandatory boaters safety certificate, but boaters, divers, and swimmers have raised concerns that stronger action hasn’t been taken.

Because Shim was killed by a boat propeller, we felt it was important to ask, was the boat impounded?

A DLNR spokesman said he still can’t disclose that because the prosecutor’s office is investigating.

KHON2 asked an expert on forensic science if impounding the boat could provide some evidence.

“It could possibly tell you, did the throttle stick? Was there any problem with the steering? If there are things like paint fragments, that sort of thing in the wounds, I would definitely want to check it out,” said Wilson Sullivan, assistant professor of forensic science at Chaminade University.

Sullivan says forensic evidence is critical with this type of investigation. “The type of injuries, then we’re going to look at usually the toxicology. Was there any alcohol involved or anything?” he said.

“With the boater or the diver?” KHON2 asked.

“Both. We’ll probably do it with both,” Sullivan said.

So KHON2 also asked what kind of training DLNR officers receive, and should officers be trained in forensic science?

DLNR wouldn’t give specifics. A spokesman said officers are capable of investigating these incidents from start to finish, although in this case, they did ask HPD for some help.

KHON2 was told that forensic evidence was sent to the Honolulu Police Department because DLNR officers don’t have a forensic lab.

The spokesman said they tend to ask other agencies for help when deaths are involved, such as the watercraft crash that killed 16-year-old Kristen Fonseca in 2012. In that case, DLNR says it asked the Coast Guard to help with the investigation.

The prosecutor’s office confirmed it’s looking into the case, but couldn’t offer details on what charges could follow.

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