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Maui Year in Review: Top Stories of 2018

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Hurricanes, snow, a false missile and volcanic activity all made our list of top 20 stories in 2018.  Here’s a recap of our top stories of 2018:

1. CENTRAL PACIFIC SEES SIX POWERFUL HURRICANES IN 2018:  The Central Pacific basin saw six powerful hurricanes during the season with Hector, Lane and Olivia causing the most concern for Maui. Other systems included Miriam, Norman and Walaka.

Hector satellite imagery 5 p.m. 8.8.18. PC: NOAA/CPHC

Hurricane Hector fluctuated in intensity multiple times and passed approximately 200 miles to the south of Maui as a Category 3 hurricane on Aug. 8-9, 2018.

Rainfall from Hurricane Lane (Aug. 22-26, 2018) marked the third highest storm total in the US since 1950, according to information compiled by Chis Jacobson, senior forecaster with the National Weather Service in Honolulu. During each severe weather event, Maui Now Meteorologist Malika Dudley provided exclusive interviews and forecast updates including a LIVE interview with The Weather Channel Hurricane Expert Dr. Rick Knabb.

Just as Maui was recovering from Lane, Hurricane Olivia made landfall three weeks later on Sept. 11, 2018. The National Weather Service estimates that the storm made landfall near Kahakuloa on the windward coast of the West Maui Mountains; and made a second landfall on the island of Lānaʻi.  Several homes on Lower Honoapiʻilani Highway and in Waiheʻe were evacuated due to rising waters in a nearby river during the severe weather event.

Floods in Kahana from Olivia. 9.12.18 PC:
Bruce Winderson

2. West Maui Fires Fueled by Lane:  Maui suffered a double impact from the storm as brush fires in West Maui were fueled by strong winds, which prevented the Maui Fire Department from utilizing helicopter water drops.  A total of three fires were reported, charring more than 2,000 acres, damaging 21 structures and 30 vehicles resulting in the evacuation of hundreds of West Maui residents and forcing the temporary closure of the Honoapiʻilani Highway as crews responded.

Kauaula Valley fire, Lahaina, Maui 8.24.18. PC: Gaylord Paul Garcia


3. Kīlauea Eruption: Four Months of Uncertainty (May 3, 2018 to Sept. 4, 2018)

Kīlauea has been an active volcano since 1983 and is one of Hawaiʻi’s most popular attractions, with residents and visitors drawn to the wonder of seeing nature at work.  Maui Now meteorologist Malika Dudley did several reports from the scene including: What’s Happening to the Marine Life at the Ocean Entry & Kaiulani’s story (This House was more than just a home). She provided us with some on-scene reports, sharing footage inside Leilani Estates and the emotional weight that the ongoing eruption is having on area residents.

Maui Now photo: Maui Now meteorologist Malika Dudley (left) interviews Big Island Mayor Harry Kim (right). Monday, June 11, 2018 7:30 a.m. LIVE

Meantime, the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority assured travelers that the impact from the volcanic eruption on Hawaiʻi Island was “limited to a remote region on the east side, far away from the rest of the Hawaiian Islands.”  Maui Now’s Wendy Osher tracked the daily activity with updates from experts at the Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park who called the seismic activity an “eerie and unsettling” feeling.

Fissure 8. PC: Hawaiʻi DLNR/Richard Drake Jr.

4. HI-EMA Apologizes for Missile False Alarm Alert: Timeline of Events

Hawaiʻi Governor David Ige said he was “angry and disappointed,” following a false alarm notification that was issued by Emergency Management personnel which had erroneously warned the public of a “ballistic missile attack” threat. The message was sent out in error and was a mistake. The false ballistic missile alert sent to people in Hawaiʻi on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018, was a grim reminder of the nuclear threat that North Korea poses to the US amid rising tensions.  Maui Now followed the story, compiling a report on What to do if the Ballistic Missile Alert was Real; and detailing the FCC report which included information that the day shift warning officer on duty believed the missile threat was real.

PC: HI-EMA press conference 1 p.m. 1.13.18


5. Warrant Issued for Man Who Spoke Only Fluent Hawaiian in Maui Court: Jan. 24, 2018
In January 2018, a spotlight was shed on Maui courts when a warrant was issued for the arrest of Maui resident Kaleikoa Kaʻeo after he refused to speak English in court, and instead spoke only fluent Hawaiian. In ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, he confirmed his presence, but during the proceedings, the judge stated that the court could not get a definitive determination for the record that the defendant seated in court was Mr. Kaʻeo.  The action sparked a chord in the Native Hawaiian community and gained widespread attention.

Kaleikoa Kaʻeo. PC: Wendy Osher.

6. Murder Investigation: Fatal Stabbing at Mall – March 18, 2018: One man is dead and another is in police custody after a fatal stabbing at the Queen Kaʻahumanu Shopping Center in Kahului on March 18, 2018. Kumulipo Iwa Coyote Sylva was charged with second degree murder for the fatal stabbing of Eduardo Alejandro Cerezo of Makawao at the Queen Kaʻahumanu Shopping Center. A witness told police that he heard the suspect tell the victim, “I was sent to end you,” and “I’ve been sending demons to the moon,” before he was observed allegedly swinging a machete at the victim.

Maui Now graphic.

7. Deadly Kanaio Shooting: Justin Namauu, 42, of Kula was charged with second degree murder for the death of Dennis Pacheco on Monday, May 21, 2018.  Sources tell Maui Now that special response personnel with the Maui Police Department scoured the area for hours looking for the suspect. Two days later, Namauu was located in Kahikinui and placed under arrest.

Photo from Piilani Hwy near Kanaio, Maui. File photo by Wendy Osher.

8. Maui Police Chase Ends in Gunfire, Fugitive Dies: A fugitive was shot and killed following a police chase on Maui that ended in gunfire at the intersection of Kaohu and South Market Street.  Kaulana “Toji” Reinhardt, 26, died after transport to the hospital after the exchange.  Police released body camera footage of the officer-involved shooting saying the 23 second encounter came following a chase that ensued for approximately 12 minutes. Maui Police Chief Tivoli Faaumu extended his condolences to the families affected by the circumstances.

Police involved shooting, Wailuku. Photo by Wendy Osher; Kaulana “Toji” Reinhardt. PC: Maui Police Department

9. Hawaiʻi Election Results:  Mike Victorino is Maui’s new Mayor after successfully defeating Elle Cochran in a 27,057 (53.6%) to 22,078 (43.8%) victory.  Maui Now published up to the minute results from the both November General Election and August Primary.

Maui election booths, file photo by Wendy Osher.


10. Double Fatality on Pi‘ilani Highway: Two Kīhei residents were fatally injured in a traffic accident on the Piʻilani Highway at the Welakahao intersection in South Maui on Friday, July 20, 2018. Police say the collision occurred as a black 2003 Independence motorcycle, traveling south on Piʻilani Highway, collided into a gold 2003 Chrysler Caravan, failing to yield while making a left turn onto Piʻilani Highway from East Welakahao Road.  Later that month, the Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation made safety improvements to the intersection to minimize vehicular conflicts.

Pi’ilani Hwy (7.20.18) PC: Josef Pusztai

11. Olowalu Brush Fire: 200 Acres Burned, 30 Homes Evacuated, 90% Contained : Aug. 31, 2018
At approximately 10 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 31, Maui fire crews responded to reports of a brush fire in the Olowalu area. Upon arrival, crews found an active brush fire behind a Paintball Field north of Olowalu Store. The fire quickly spread up the hillside, and through dry brush and kiawe.

12. 2,500 Acres Burned, Winds Fuel Fast Moving Pukalani Fire : July 3, 2018  A total of 2,500 acres of fallow sugar cane and brush had burned as of 7 p.m.  Most of the acreage burned was located between Haleakalā Highway and Pūlehu Road.

Pukalani fire 7.3.18. PC: Robin Pilus.

13.  Ocean Victories…

Kempter 3-Time Winner at Peʻahi: Maui’s own Billy Kemper won the Jaws Challenge at Peʻahi, one of three stops on the World Surf League Men’s Big Wave Tour.  This was his third win of the event in his career.  Maui Now’s Malika Dudley was on scene to catch a first hand interview with Kemper and his thoughts on the monstrous waves at Maui’s legendary surf spot.

Maui’s own Billy Kemper (HAW) won the Jaws Challenge at Pe‘ahi. PHOTO: © WSL / Hallman SOCIAL : @wsl @richardhallman_photo.

14. …and Defeats:

Unprecedented Spike in Drowning Incidents: Jan. 28, 2018  Nine men died in Maui waters between Jan. 14-27, 2018. Two ocean drownings occurred on Jan. 14, “which was the start in a string of fatal drownings we’ve had since,” said Maui County Fire Services Chief Edward Taomoto.

Maui ocean drownings.

15. Maui Sustainability: Farm to School and Sunflower Features

There’s no doubt, our school gardens are growing. And so is the movement to bring more local agriculture and food into not only the classroom, but also the cafeteria.

The Hawai’i Farm to School Program sprouted roots in 2015, establishing goals to improve student nutrition and hands-on learning, expand large purchasing of local foods, and other topics you can learn about in our video above.  Maui Now’s Kiaora Bohlool went onsite to explore how Hawai’i Farm to School Program is branching out here on Maui.

Farm to School. Maui Now photo.

Also in our sustainability series, there’s a field of yellow that caught our eye.  It’s hard to miss the vibrant sunflower fields that have been growing in Waikapū since last year.  In fact, you may have been one of the thousands taking photos with the flowers!   Maui Now’s Kiaora Bohlool went on site to see where all the flowers go after their time in the sun.

Maui sunflower field, owned by Pacific Biodiesel. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

16. Extended Closure of ‘Āhihi-Kīna‘u Due to Shark Sightings – March 28, 2018:  ʻĀhihi-Kīnaʻu Natural Area Reserve along Maui’s south shore re-opened on Monday, April 9, 2018 after being closed since March 28th due to “multiple large sharks” which were seen continuously swimming close to shore, DLNR officials confirmed with Maui Now. The initial closure was implemented after numerous shark sightings, including tiger sharks. The nearly two week closure of the reserve this year comes as a new study was released detailing shark behavior and habitat in Hawaiian waters. According to the Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System or PacIOOS, the team of researchers used satellite and acoustic tags to track 41 tiger sharks off Maui and Oʻahu “in an attempt to better understand tiger shark movement and habitat use patterns.” Study findings revealed that tiger sharks prefer “insular shelf habitat,” which extends from the shoreline up to a depth of 600 feet.

Background image: ʻĀhihi-Kīnaʻu Natural Area Reserve. PC: Hawaiʻi DLNR. Foreground graphics: Maui Now.

17. Snow Capped Haleakalā, Maui: Snow was in the forecast for Haleakalā above the 9,000 foot elevation, calling for snow accumulations up to two inches at the summit, with localized higher amounts possible. The National Weather Service issued the winter weather advisory on Feb. 18-19, 2018. The forecast did not fail.  Due to approximately 1.5 inches of snow, covered by a heavy layer of ice, the road to the summit of Haleakalā was temporarily closed at Kalahaku Overlook, located at approximately 9000 feet of elevation.

Haleakalā snow. 2.19.18. PC: Brooke Yost

18. Flooding Causes Traffic Snarl on Honoapi‘ilani Hwy – Sept. 27, 2018

Traffic was reduced to a contraflow for much of the afternoon on Sept. 27th when flooding occurred in Olowalu and parts of the Lahaina Bypass. State crews from the Department of Transportation worked to clear standing water in problem areas.

Flooding at Kai Hele Kū 9.27.18 by Brittany Kevan via Cori Clamme

19. Bullying PSA Draws 100k Views: 

Our Malika Dudley interviewed a young boy who has experienced bullying here on Maui. His story is not unique, as more than 1 in 5 children experience being bullied each year, but at just six years old Lawaia Uwekoolani is wise beyond his years. The first grader is hoping to spread awareness and encourage empathy. 

Malika Dudley interviews Lawaia Uwekoolani

20: Alexandrial Duval acquitted in 2nd Degree Murder trial. Feb. 1, 2018

A woman accused of 2nd degree murder in the May 29, 2016 death of her twin sister has been acquitted of the charge. Judge Peter Cahill handed down the ruling in Maui District Court. Alexandria Duval (also known as Allison Dadow) was involved in a deadly crash that claimed the life of her twin sister Anastasia Duval (also known as Ann Dadow) in the remote Puʻuiki area of East Maui, in which a vehicle plunged 100-200 feet off a cliff from the Hāna Highway.

The case drew widespread media attention with many news organizations sifting up information on the twin’s past as Yoga instructors on the mainland.  Evidence presented at a preliminary hearing, failed to support a finding of probable cause and Duval was released in June of 2016, but arrested five months later on the strength of a warrant issued in connection with a grand jury indictment.  Maui Now’s Wendy Osher filed the report.

Alexandrial Duval acquitted in 2nd Degree Murder trial. 2.1.18


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