(HawaiiNewsNow) - Stan Souza celebrated Father's Day with friends and neighbors just outside of their homes near the Sacred Falls Sate Park gates. The gates have been closed now for well over a decade after a deadly accident happened there on the 9th of May, Mother's Day, of 1999. Eight people were killed and others seriously injured during a rockslide along the rugged path.
Stan Souza knows the area well and described the unsafe trail. "It's just vertical, it's a mountain that's vertical and if anything comes off of the cliffs you're pretty much in harm's way." He explained.
The state has posted numerous signs on the property warning trespassers to stay out.
But Souza says people are still entering illegally. "I'd say on a daily basis there's between 5 to 15 people that will climb over the fence or circumvent the fence, walk around it and go up into the closed park area."
Stan's wife Lorna says they try to warn people when they can. She says many just ignore the warnings and continue trespassing.
The DLNR's Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement officers are responsible for patrolling the parks and issuing citations to violators but local residents suggest more is needed to make people comply.
"Maybe bring onboard a few more DLNR officers so they could cover these areas that pose a hazard to the community and our visitors as well." suggested Souza.
DLNR chairperson, William J. Aila says his department will continue to enforce the laws to the best of their ability. He explained, "The department is going to take a zero tolerance approach. Anyone caught inside Sacred Falls will be cited."
Lorna Souza worries that it's not just about the park's dangers but said, "This is a very sacred place to us and this mountain has been abused and now it's just time to let it heal."
Entry to the state park is a petty misdemeanor offense and is subject to criminal penalties of not less than one-hundred dollars and a maximum of $10,000 in additional administrative penalties and up to one year in jail.