HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The city Prosecutor's Office is considering bringing negligent homicide charges against the operator in a fatal Kailua boating accident, Hawaii News Now has learned.
The office confirmed Wednesday that it is taking over the investigation into the death of 59-year-old Sri Shim, who was struck and killed by a 24-foot Zodiac vessel on Jan. 9.
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources had previously been leading the investigation.
"I am relieved that the prosecutor is taking it over. There has been some rumors, there have been some rumors for years that the DLNR has gone easy on regulating activities down there in general," said former state appellate court judge Walter Heen, who is Shim's uncle.
Sources say that City Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro is looking at potential negligent homicide charges against the operator of the boat, 41-year-old Sai Hansen of Kailua.
Several witnesses have told Hawaii News Now that they saw Hansen's Zodiac speeding near the coast of Kailua on the day of the accident. According to records provided by city Ocean Safety officials, there were about 225 people in the waters all along Kailua beach about the time the accident occurred.
"I've received reports, several reports, of the activities of an individual down there with an orange zodiac racing up and down the waters," said Heen.
"The people in Kailua that I have heard from are crying out for something to be done to curb the activities of this one individual."
Usually a negligent homicide case involves a drunk driver who ends up killing somebody. But here not alcohol was involved so it's a misdemeanor. The misdemeanor charge is punishable by up to a year in jail.
"In this case, (the penalties) are not strong enough. To me it's an egregious case of mass negligence," said Heen.
Hansen was recently cited for operating a vessel without proof of a safety course card. But that charge will likely be tossed now that the prosecutor's office is is looking at a negligent homicide investigation.
Calls to Hansen today were not returned.