Visitor’s death on Kauai under investigation; tour company had good safety record

A woman swept away during a kayak and hiking tour on Kauai over the weekend was visiting from California.

Kauai police identified the victim Monday as Aimee Abrahim, 32, of El Cajon.

Abrahim was on a guided tour along Wailua River and was crossing the river by foot when she was swept away.

The area was under a flood watch when the tour left and a flash flood warning had just been issued.

After speaking with the owner of the tour company, we’re digging deeper into how these tour companies are regulated to keep people safe.

We learned the state Department of Land and Natural Resources keeps tabs on these businesses.

No one from DLNR wanted to speak on camera. Instead we received a statement from Curt Cottrell, state parks administrator: “DLNR extends its sympathy to the family of the kayaker. It is always a sad day for us when someone is lost while enjoying the parks, regardless of the circumstances.  Commercial kayak tour operators on Wailua River Kauai are required to obtain a permit from the Division of State Parks. This was a permitted operator of long standing with a good compliance and safety record. We have no further comment at this time while this incident is under investigation.”

We learned that Kayak Wailua, the company that was guiding the river tour on Saturday, has been in compliance and has a good safety record with DLNR.

Despite there being a flash flood watch, the company did not cancel the tour. We asked DLNR, are tour companies required to notify their guests of any potential weather hazards?

The state says it can’t comment any further since the incident is being investigated, so we checked with state Rep. Ryan Yamane, who heads the committee for water and land use. He says with public safety at hand, the issue is worth looking into further.

“They put themselves in harm’s way and then our first responders and others are also put in harm’s way when they have to go and rescue them in very bad or dangerous conditions,” Yamane said. “We can bring in both the public and the private sector companies together to have that discussion to see if we can find a way that the industry flourishes but also does their due diligence by warning their customers.”

We reached out to Kayak Wailua again and they said all of their guests are required to sign a liability release for before going out on a tour.

DLNR is the agency handling the investigation into the woman’s death. There’s no word on how long it could take.

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