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Results of Preliminary Investigation into Maui Zipline Death

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Maui Zipline incident.  Maui Now graphic.

Maui Zipline incident. Maui Now graphic.

By Wendy Osher

Maui police today released further information surrounding the death of an employee at the Piʻiholo Ranch Zipline last week.

According to initial reports, Patricia Rabellizsa fell from a landing platform, approximately 150 feet into the ravine below.

The incident was reported at around 9:50 a.m. on Thursday, May 1, 2014.

Police say an investigation revealed that Rabellizsa was working on the platform, when a zipliner entered the landing platform at a high rate of speed.


According to police reports, the zipliner struck the springs at the end of the line, which propelled her back.  Rabellizsa then grabbed onto the zipliner to prevent her from going back down the line, however, the momentum took them both back onto the line, according to a press release issued by Maui Police Sergeant Audra Sellers.


Police say witnesses reported Rabellizsa was able to hang on to the zipliner for a few minutes, but lost her grip and fell into the gulch below.

According to the report, Rabellizsa was not secured to the landing platform with any type of safety harness.

Previous zipline accidents include the following:

  • December 31, 2012: A 25-year-old man was transported to the hospital on New Year’s Eve after falling 45-feet from a zip line in West Maui. According to Maui Fire Services Chief Lee Mainaga, the man used a rope to slide down one of the ziplines at Skyline Eco Adventures, when he got stuck midway. He held on for as long as he could, but eventually fell, said Mainaga.
  • August 5, 2012:  A 60-year-old man visiting from Nebraska was treated for injuries sustained on a Maui zipline on August 5, 2012.  Authorities say the individual was stuck on the line, and was injured when he was hit by an employee attempting to assist him at the Flyin Hawaiian Zipline in Waikapū.  Officials say the victim suffered a laceration to the back of his head and pain to his shoulder.  Both the victim and employee made it to a tower next to the Kahili Golf Course where they were airlifted with rescue personnel to safety, authorities said.
  • June 11, 2012: A 43-year-old woman from Fremont, California was airlifted to safety after suffering an injury while ziplining at the Tropical Plantation Zipline in Waikapū.  Maui Fire Services Chief Lee Mainaga said the woman suffered a femur fracture to her left leg as she was coming down the zipline and landing on the tower.  The injury was considered life-threatening and the woman was airlifted off the tower to a landing zone in front of the plantation, authorities said.
  • September 21, 2011: A Maui man who was fatally injured in a ziplining accident on Hawai’i Island was identified as Ted Callaway, 36 of Lahaina.  Callaway fell 200 feet to his death while testing a line at a course in Pauka’a.  Another worker fell 30 feet from a collapsed platform and suffered critical injuries.  He was identified as 43-year-old Curtis Wright, of Miamisburg, Ohio.  Both men were employed by a Maui company that builds and maintains ziplines.  Experiential Resources Inc. (ERi) called the incident a “construction accident,” saying the company was working on a new course at the Lava Hotline just outside of Hilo, Hawai’i when the accident occurred.  The two men had just made an adjustment to the line and were in the process of testing it, according to police. Callaway had traveled about halfway across the 2,300-foot span when a tower collapse.

In October 2012, the Hawaiʻi State Auditor released a report stating that regulation of the zipline and canopy tours was not warranted, and furthermore, that the state was incapable of oversight due to staffing, money, and expertise issues.

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