Ing: July 4th Floatilla Safety Issues “Alarming”
Representative Kaniela Ing of Maui (D-11, Kīhei, Wailea, Mākena) who Chairs the House Committee on Ocean, Marine Resources & Hawaiian Affairs, called safety issues related to yesterday’s July 4th Floatilla event in Waikīkī on Oʻahu, “alarming.”
The US Coast Guard estimates that there were 10,000 people were in attendance for the Independence Day floatilla celebration, which included numerous personnel in various types of watercraft from motorized boats, kayaks, canoes, dinghies to inflatable floats.
Coast Guard crews worked closely with Honolulu Police Department, Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources and Ocean Safety to assist in the rescue of over 30 individuals in the water, which included multiple intoxicated and underage youth, according to Lt. j.g. Brian Waters, Coast Guard Sector Honolulu Enforcement. Coast Guard crews also recovered over 100 inflatable floats to prevent future unnecessary search and rescue cases.
He said credited the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and city officials for attempting to address the issue in the past, but says the event has “taken a turn for the worse.”
“Organizers have had numerous chances to clean it up and keep attendees safe, but nothing has changed for the better,” said Rep. Ing. “We are talking about public underage drinking, trash on our beaches and in our waters, 10 young people being rushed to the hospital, one 19-year-old woman in critical condition, and lifeguards having to rescue over 100 event goers, all during one party. Look, I’m young, and am all for having fun responsibly, but this has crossed way over the line.”
According to Rep. Ing, there are certain legal loopholes that might make enforcement by city officials or DLNR impossible, but its up tot he legislature to amend the law.
Rep. Kaniela Ing said he plans to explore the issue by introducing and hearing a bill led by the committee he leads.
DLNR officials say that by mid-day, one woman was brought to shore unconscious and 7-8 other people have been assisted to shore. Fourteen officers from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement patrolled the area on boat and jet skis.
DOCARE officers took the opportunity to remind ocean users of applicable boating rules, monitoring for under-aged alcohol use, and along with county and federal partners educate revelers on how to remain safe in relatively shallow water, about 1/2 mile off Waikiki Beach. With brisk off-shore winds blowing officers asked ocean-goers to move closer to shore and to moderate their alcohol consumption.