Maui News

Year in Review: A Look at Maui’s Top Headlines from 2017

December 31, 2017, 7:24 AM HST
* Updated December 31, 7:30 AM
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State v Capobianco trail. Defendant Steven Capobianco. PC: 11.30.16 by Wendy Osher.

Capobianco Trial: Murder was “Heinous”

Jurors reached a unanimous verdict on both charges on Dec. 28, 2016, finding Steven Capobianco guilty as charged for murder in the second degree of Carly “Charli” Scott and for setting Scott’s vehicle on fire.

On Jan. 3, 2017, the jury answered “Yes” to the question of whether the murder of Carly “Charli” Scott was “especially heinous, atrocious and cruel.”

The jury’s response, at the time, meant Capobianco qualified for a sentence of life in prison without parole.


Body of California Visitor Recovered from Waiʻānapanapa Freshwater Caves 


Maui firefighters recovered the body of a 33-year-old male from California, on Sunday, Jan. 29, at the Waiʻānapanapa Freshwater Caves in Hāna.

A rescue crew from Kahului arrived with the department’s Air 1 helicopter to assist in the rescue, but after learning of the recovery operation, did not have full capability to make an underwater body recovery into the confined overhead environment and cave system. The victim was located about 75-feet from the cave entrance. The caves at Waiʻānapanapa have since been blocked off.


ʻĪao Valley flood restoration and boulder removal below the bridge near Kepaniwai. Photo 10.4.16 by Wendy Osher.


Rep. Ing Responds to Mayor Arakawa’s ‘Sacred Rocks’ Comment

While ʻĪao Valley flood repairs were still underway, Maui County’s spokesperson, Rod Antone, apologized after admitting some ʻĪao Valley rocks, mixed in with tree debris, were sent to the landfill where they crushed. Three days later, Mayor Alan Arakawa brushed off concerns about the destruction of rocks considered sacred in ʻĪao Valley, telling Hawaiʻi News Now Sunrise that “there’s no such thing as sacred rocks.”

The comments sparked a firestorm on social media, and drew instant condemnation from those criticizing Maui County’s handling of the flood repair project.

“I don’t usually comment on statements made by other elected officials because I feel like it can inflame the combative nature of politics and rarely lead to resolve. But in this particular case, I could not stand by while Maui County’s highest ranking official, Mayor Arakawa, denigrated our host culture and defied our constitutionally-protected, individual right–a tenant of our democracy–religious freedom,” State Representative Kaniela Ing said.

Safeway Maui Lani. Photo by Wendy Osher.

Safeway to Anchor New Hoʻokele Shopping Center 

Safeway announced it will anchor the new Hoʻokele Shopping Center, a 94,000-square-foot center located at the gateway to Alexander & Baldwin, Inc.’s Maui Business Park in Central Maui.

The center will feature a 57,400-square-foot Safeway grocery store and a Safeway Fuel Station. It will also include space for additional retailers and a drive-through restaurant.

Construction is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2018 and be completed by the second quarter of 2019. A&B will hold the shopping center as part of its commercial real estate portfolio.


3-year-old Trucker Dukes

3-year-old Trucker Dukes Dies of Cancer

3-year-old Trucker Dukes, who suffered from Stage 4 Neuroblastoma, an aggressive form of pediatric cancer, lost his hard fought battle on March 3, 2017.

The heart-breaking news was announced by Dukes’ mother in an Instagram post which read: “At 10:10 a.m. on March 3, 2017, in his mamma’s arms, Trucker took his last breath here and went home to be with Jesus,” read the post.
“We prayed that his passing (and I say passing because we have hope of seeing him again in Heaven) would be peaceful, not painful and with ohana there.
Our God answered this prayer.
We are going to honor him and live our lives as better dads, moms, siblings, husbands, wives and people of God. We love you little warrior. Run free in heaven with no pain, no tears, no suffering!! #TeamTrucker #TruckerTough #LoveBeatsCancer” Joshua Dukes, Trucker’s dad.”

Celebration of Life for Trucker Dukes. Mauinow photo.

On March 10, 2017, thousands of Maui residents and firefighters from across the country honored the life of Trucker Dukes during a Celebration of Life at Hope Chapel in Kīhei.

An estimated 3,000 people attended the celebration, filling the chapel and overflow areas outside where attendees watched the ceremony on large screens.

On March 11, 2017, in a private paddle out of family and close friends, flowers and prayers were scattered as a final farewell to Trucker Dukes at Hoʻokipa Beach Park.

Flooding near Kūlanihākoʻi in the Kīhei area of South Maui. PC: Kevin Olson.

7 Rescued From Kīhei Flash Flood, Motorists Stranded

Maui firefighters rescued a total of seven people after they became stranded by flood waters during a flash flooding event along South Kīhei Road on Tuesday, March 7, 2017.

Crews worked into the early afternoon on Wednesday, March 8, 2017 to clean up mud and debris that had accumulated along South Kīhei Road as the result of flash flooding.

The flood sent a river of water a few feet deep across the heavily traveled thoroughfare between Kaonoulu and Kūlanihākoʻi Streets. Maui police closed South Kīhei Road near Kaonoulu Street for about four hours while crews worked to remove mud and pressure wash normally manicured areas.

Phillip Rosenthal (left) and Ashley Ramos (right).

Suspect Arrested in Tourist Kidnapping Case on Maui

On Wednesday, March 15, 2017 two visitors from California reported an unknown adult male and adult female held them up at gun point and stole personal belongings valued at $9,402 at Nākālele Point.

Maui police arrested Ashley Ramos, 19, of Lahaina on March 22, in connection with the reported kidnapping and was charged with Robbery in the First Degree, Unauthorized Entry into a Motor Vehicle, Unauthorized Control of a Propelled Vehicle, Terroristic Threatening in the First Degree and Kidnapping.

On March 30, Phillip Rosenthal, 37, of Lahaina turned himself in and was charged for all offenses including: Robbery in the First Degree, Kidnapping, Unauthorized Entry into a Motor Vehicle, Theft of Credit Card, Unauthorized Control of a Propelled Vehicle, Terroristic Threatening in the First Degree and Theft in the Second Degree.

New Maui Law Lifts 11 p.m. Deadline on Sale of Alcohol

Maui Now image.

The Department of Liquor Control on Maui lifted the time restriction on the sale of alcohol at retail locations and hotels in Maui County.

The new law went into effect on March 4, 2017, and lifted the 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. restriction on the sale of alcohol at supermarkets, convenience stores and other after hours retail spots.

Steven Capobianco appears before the court for a restitution hearing. Photo (5.4.17) by Wendy Osher.

Capobianco Sentenced to Life in Prison With Possibility of Parole 

On Friday, March 24, 2017, Steven Capobianco was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole for the second degree murder charge in the death of Carly “Charli” Scott. He was also sentenced to a maximum period of a 10 year term for the offense of arson in the second degree for setting her vehicle on fire, to be served consecutively.


Maui Woman Among Those Diagnosed with Rat Lungworm Disease

Malika Dudley (right) interviews Tricia Mynar (left) who was diagnosed with rat lungworm disease.

A 47-year-old Maui woman contracted rat lungworm and brought attention to the disease on Maui.

Tricia Mynar, a Maui preschool teacher, said she believed she got the disease from eating a salad while on the Big Island.

Rare Sighting of Whale Shark Observed Near Molokini Crater

A rare sighting of a Whale Shark was observed near Molokini Crater on April 1, 2017.

Chloe Cryan, an underwater photographer aboard the Aliʻi Nui sailing vessel, was among those who captured images of the juvenile male Whale Shark. She described the Whale Shark as about 20 feet long and “curious,” saying she observed the creature just “slowly swimming around.”

Pacific Biodiesel sunflower crop. April 2017. PC: Valerie Richter

Sunflowers in Bloom: Earth Day Tours Filling Up Fast

A field of brightly colored sunflowers drew the attention of many passing motorists in Central Maui. The sunflowers were planted by Pacific Biodiesel in February as the company’s first biofuel crop on Maui, at the largest biofuel crop project site in the state.


Delta Air Lines “Sorry” After Dispute With Family Over Child Seat on Maui to LA Flight

(Image: Brian Schear/YouTube)

Delta Air Lines responded to a dispute with a family that was booked on Flight 2222 from Maui to Los Angeles, California.

The apology came after a dispute in which Brian Schear along with his wife and two children, ages 1 and 2, were removed from the flight when he refused to give up a seat that his two year old was sitting in.

Schear posted an eight minute video to the internet, garnering more than 2.5 million views in a single day.

In the video, Schear was warned that if he did not abide it would be considered a federal offense, and he would be removed from the flight. In the video he was told that if he did not comply, “You and your wife will be in jail and your kids will be put in foster care.”

Suspicious Incidents in Kīhei Prompt Community Concerns

Maui police car image. Nikki Schenfeld

A Maui family spread awareness to the community after they reported what they described as an attempted kidnapping in Kīhei to Maui police. Joella Speelman told Maui Now that the incident occurred at the parking lot of a base yard in Kīhei off of Halekūʻai Street.

According to Speelman, a woman suspect walked through the parking lot, opened the truck door where her four-year-old son was seated, and reached for him as he was watching a video on his tablet. Speelman said her husband intervened and physically fought off the woman who eventually left the property on foot. Speelman said the suspect was “talking crazy” during the incident and then called the police on her husband. According to Speelman, responding officers implied that they had dealt with the woman before, and did not detain her because she didn’t actually take the child.

Another resident, Danielle Garcia, told Maui Now that a similar situation happened to her six-year-old daughter at Waipuilani Beach behind the Maui Sunset. In that incident, a woman of a similar description reportedly approached the girl claiming the child was her grandson.


Pukalani Chevron armed robbery 6.7.17. Surveillance imagery courtesy. Note: authorities say the times on the security camera are incorrect.

Pukalani Chevron Targeted in Armed Robbery

On June 7, 2017, at about 9 p.m., a cashier at the Chevron gas station located at 3425 Old Haleakalā Highway reported being robbed at gunpoint.

Police said an unidentified female allegedly came into the store and pointed a handgun at the cashier and demanded money. The female allegedly left the store with cash and fled in an awaiting vehicle that was parked outside. Police say the driver of the vehicle was male.

On June 20, 2017, police arrested Desmond Puu, 36, of Makawao in connection with the robbery. He was charged with the offense of Robbery in the First Degree and his bail was set at $250,000. On Friday, Aug. 4, 2017, Cianna Cruz Wallace, 26, of Pāʻia was also arrested in connection with the robbery. She was charged with the offense of Robbery in the First Degree and her bail was set at $250,000.

Hōkūleʻa’s Unforgettable Homecoming 

Hōkūleʻa entering Magic Island on Oʻahu in front of Diamond Head after a three year worldwide voyage. It’s is estimated that 50,000 people were in attendance. PC: Nikki Schenfeld

The voyaging canoe Hōkūleʻa came home on June 17, 2017, after leaving Hawaiian waters back in May 2014, to spread the word of “Mālama Honua” or “to care for the earth” around the world.

It is estimated that 50,000 people came to Magic Island on Oʻahu to welcome the double-hulled sailing canoe home from her three-year voyage around the globe.

King Tides Roll In: Monk Seal Slows Traffic on Honoapiʻilani Hwy

Monk seal on Honoapiʻilani Highway. (6.21.17) PC: Asa Ellison

A monk seal came up partially on the road on the Honoapiʻilani Highway in Olowalu on June 24, slowing traffic on the busy thoroughfare that connects West Maui to the Central Valley. Police and volunteers responded to the report in an effort to protect the animal from oncoming traffic.

The tides were especially high, washing up on the road and came amid a special weather statement issued by the National Weather Service, advising the public of coastal flooding due to the next king tide event rolling in to the islands.

More than 5,000 people attended the Oprah Winfrey conversation on Maui. PC: Wendy Osher.

Oprah Shares Message on Maui to “Live Your Best Life”

On June 26, 2017, more than 5,000 people welcomed Oprah Winfrey to her very first appearance on Maui as she lead a special conversation designed to inspire Hawaiʻi residents to live healthier, happier, more productive lives.

The event, entitled “Live Your Best Life,” was presented by the Hawai‘i Medical Service Association, Hawaiʻi’s leading health plan, and Sharecare. The event took place at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center.


Maui’s 24-Hour Alcohol Sales Law Reconsidered

A coalition formed outside the Queen Kaahumanu Center to repeal Maui’s 24-hour liquor law. MauiNow Photo

The Maui Liquor Commission met on July 12, for a public hearing to consider proposed changes to existing rules that were implemented in February.

Five months prior, the commission voted for and the mayor signed into law measures that: lift the 12 establishment cap on hostess bars; allow for the 24-hour sale of alcohol at retail establishments; and create a market for the home delivery of alcohol in the county.

The meeting was prompted by two letters to the commission from resident Mahina Martin, who argued that the items were allowed to pass without input from many of those affected by the changes.

Proposed changes seeked a repeal of the laws and a return to the previous 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. restriction on retail sales of alcohol; a 12 cap license for hostess bars; and the elimination of home delivery of alcohol.


Michael Bisping. Image credit: Instagram

UFC Champ Michael Bisping Gets Car Broken Into on Maui

UFC Middleweight Champion, television analyst and actor, Michael Bisping had the unfortunate luck of getting his rental vehicle broken into while vacationing on Maui.

The incident was reported in the East Maui area of Kailua on Friday, Aug. 4, and was discovered after Bisping and his family returned from a hike at the area often referred to as the “Bamboo Forest.”

Stolen during the incident were Bisping’s wallet, his wife’s bag, and all of their clothes that were in it, according to a post on his Instagram account.

ʻĪao Valley (8.3.17). PC: Wendy Osher

‘Īao Valley State Monument “Soft Re-Opening”

ʻĪao Valley State Monument opened to the public again on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, following Phase I of repairs after a severe flood that caused millions of dollars in damage throughout the valley in September of 2016.

The “soft re-opening” was only temporary until additional required permits are finalized for additional work involving the stabilization of a slope just downhill from the garden area.

Eclipse from Washington 8.21.17. PC: by Maui resident Chris Archer.

Total Solar Eclipse: Partial View Over Hawai‘i Begins at Dawn

On Monday, Aug. 21, a Total Solar Eclipse made its way across the Mainland US.

Hawaiʻi caught a glimpse of the event before it became total with about one third of the sun’s disk blocked by the moon, according to astronomers.


Two Maui Men Charged with Attempted Kidnapping in Kīhei

Edward James Martin. Photo Courtesy MPD

Around 7:18 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, a resource officer at Lokelani Intermediate School received a report that two female students were walking down Ali‘ilani Place in Kīhei to a bus stop on their way to school when they were approached by a black Mercedes sedan.

Two males inside the Mercedes allegedly made repeated attempts to lure the girls into the sedan. The girls refused and the vehicle drove off.

The passenger of the vehicle, 39-year-old Edward James Martin of Kīhei, was later located and arrested and charged for the offense of Attempted Kidnapping in the First Degree.

Four Dead, Three Injured in Kā‘anapali Crash 

A fatal motor vehicle collision occurred on Honoapi‘ilani Highway 30 just south of Keka‘a Drive in Kā‘anapali on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, at approximately 6:53 p.m.

The collision occurred when a white 2003 Dodge pickup truck traveling south on Honoapi‘ilani Highway crossed left of a painted median and collided head-on into a white 2007 Toyota Camry four-door sedan traveling north on Honoapi‘ilani Highway within the inner lane.

The driver and two passengers from the Toyota Camry died on scene including the driver of the Dodge pickup truck.


UPDATE: Two Arrested as Result of MPD Arcade Raid 

On Monday, Oct. 2, 2017 at about 11 a.m., officers from the Maui Police Department’s Vice Division executed search warrants at the Temple of the Pharaohs located at the Mā‘alaea Harbor Shops.

Officers had received information and complaints from the public about possible illegal gaming machines inside the establishment.

As a result of the search, 25 illegal gaming machines were seized and two people were arrested.

Southwest Airlines Coming to Hawaiʻi

Southwest Airlines. Maui Now Stock Photo

Around 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017, Gov. David Ige tweeted: “BREAKING: Welcoming @southwestair to the islands! We can’t wait to welcome your ʻohana to experience our people, place and culture ??”

After years of speculation, Gov. Ige’s tweet solidified that Southwest Airlines will start flying to Hawaiʻi.

The announcement was made by Southwest President Tom Nealon and Gov. Ige via satellite from Waikiki Beach to an estimated 10,000 Southwest employees at a company party in Los Angeles.

The airline said it will start selling tickets to Hawaiʻi beginning in 2018 and will offer fares that are lower than those currently in the marketplace.

Haiku Brush Fire. PC: Anna Kim

58 Acres Scorched in Pāʻia and Ha‘ikū Brush Fires

Maui Fire Crews responded to two brush fires that occurred within hours of one another in Pāʻia and Ha‘ikū on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017.

Forty-two minutes after the Pāʻia fire was extinguished, crews responded to reports of a brush fire makai-side of Hāna Highway at the Ha‘ikū Road intersection.

“Crews had just left the scene of the Pāʻia fire and didn’t even make it back to the station when they responded to the second fire,” Chief Taomoto said.

The wind was blowing the fire towards Kahului and spread within feet of Hāna Highway resulting in a complete shutdown of the highway from Maliko Gulch to Pauwela Road from 7:40 to 10:25 p.m.

Six homes on the makai side of Hāna Highway were evacuated due to the fire blowing downwind. Chief Taomoto said the fire came within five feet from homes.

Powerful Storm Hits Maui County

Downed power line at Hookele and Hana Highway intersection. PC: MECO

A powerful storm hit most of the Hawaiian islands on Monday, Oct. 23 through Tuesday, Oct. 24. The storm started on Oʻahu causing multiple power outages and flooding before heading towards Lānaʻi and Molokaʻi.

The storm knocked down power lines across Maui resulting in island-wide power outages, brown water advisories and school closures.


BREAKING: Island Air to Shut Down After 37 Years

Island Air Q400. Courtesy photo.

Island Air announced it would cease operations as of 12:01 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017. Island Air ended it’s 37 year history with it’s final flight #449 departing from Kahului Airport at 10:14 p.m., Friday, Nov. 10.

UPDATE: Manhunt Expands to Maui for Dangerous Escapee 

The manhunt spread to Maui for 59-year-old Randall Toshio Saito, who escaped from the Hawaiʻi State Hospital on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017.

The Honolulu Star Advertiser reported that Saito was diagnosed with sexual sadism and necrophilia. He reportedly killed a woman at the Ala Moana Center in 1979, but was acquitted by reason of insanity.

Maui police say he boarded a plane and traveled to Maui shortly after his escape. It was later discovered that Saito was already in California by the time hospital staff reported Saito missing.

On Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017, San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Deputies arrested Saito, at approximately 10:30 a.m. (PST) (8:30 a.m. HST). The arrest was made as the result of a tip received from an alert taxi cab driver, according to a social media post from San Joaquin Sheriff’s. Saito was arrested in the area of Highway 99 and Waterloo Road in Stockton.


Emergency Management Agency Siren, Maui. Photo by Wendy Osher.

Tests of “Attack Warning Signal” Begin on Dec. 1 

Beginning Dec. 1, 2017, monthly tests of the statewide warning siren system included a newly-activated Attack Warning Tone, intended to warn Hawaiʻi residents of an impending nuclear missile attack.

The Attack Warning Signal or “Wailing Tone” was implemented as the state continues preparedness and consequence management plans related to potential attack scenarios. The warning sirens are used to alert the public to emergencies. December 2017 was the first month for the reinstatement of the Attack Warning Signal testing since the Cold War.

Central Maui Flooding

Aleo Place, Kahului, Maui at 11 a.m. 12.20.17. PC: Jovie Blue

A wet weather event resulted in stranded motorists, flooded homes and multiple road closures on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017.

A record rainfall of 5.78 inches was set in Kahului, breaking the old record for the same day of 3.21 inches set in 1955.

Police, Fire, Public Works and other county departments responded to multiple road closures and emergency calls. Traffic signals at various intersections were out due to scattered power outages. The flash flooding resulted in the closure of all recreational park facilities, suspension of bus services in parts of Kahului, and landslides from Kahekili Highway to Hāna Highway.

Aftermath of Kahului Elementary School fire (11.25.17) PC: Asa Ellison

Teen Arrested and Charged for Kahului School Arson

Maui police arrested and charged a 17-year-old juvenile male from Kahului for arson in connection with an investigation into a fire that destroyed several classrooms at Kahului Elementary School over Thanksgiving weekend.

The arrest was made on Friday, Dec. 15, 2017. Police say the juvenile male was charged with two counts of first degree arson, three counts of second degree burglary, (attempted) second degree burglary and two counts of fourth degree criminal property damage.

The juvenile male appeared in Family Court where he was ordered to be transferred and held at the Hawaiʻi Youth Correctional Facility on Oʻahu.

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