Two people arrested after cutting through county land near Puna - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Two people arrested after cutting through county land near Puna lava flow

Keaau resident shows reporters an eggbeater that she dipped in lava on Thursday. Keaau resident shows reporters an eggbeater that she dipped in lava on Thursday.
Ruth Crawford Ruth Crawford
Stephen Paul Koch Stephen Paul Koch
PUNA, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Two local residents were arrested late Thursday night for criminal trespassing after bragging to reporters and showing off some items they had dipped in the Puna lava flow.

Officials say they 65-year-old Ruth Crawford of Kae'au and 59-year-old Paul Koch of Pahoa trespassed through county land to reach the flow, but had traveled further upslope so they wouldn't pass through private residential land.

The couple was taken into custody when they reportedly tried to return to the flow, possibly to dip more items into the lava.

Hawai'i County Civil Defense Director Darryl Oliveira called the situation disappointing and urged the public once again to please cooperate with their efforts to keep everyone safe and out of the restricted areas. Pahoa Village Road is still closed to non-residents between Post Office Road and Apa'a Street.

"There will be a time and a place for viewing," Oliveira said. "Right now we're trying to keep everyone safe, as well as trying to support the community that's dealing with this and allow them to have some peace in their life."

Crawford and Koch's bail is set at $250 each, but officials say because the alleged trespassing happened during the county's emergency declaration status, they could face enhanced penalties.

But officials are also urging residents who live along Pahoa Village Road & Apa'a Street to try to return to a sense of normalcy and all the fun Halloween can bring. Especially for the keiki who live there and will be allowed to trick or treat.

"When the lava was flowing I felt like I couldn't trick or treat," said Apaa Street resident Tehani Kekuawela. "Now that it is stalling, I feel happy."

Pahoa resident Kapono Kaaihue Jr. told Hawaii News Now what he likes best about Halloween.

"I like getting candy and getting costumes," said Kaaihue Jr.

Officials say they are hoping it will be an uneventful but enjoyable evening for these residents tonight, knowing that Civil Defense and USGS will be monitoring the situation closely and will inform them immediately if anything changes.

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