Big Island police arrest man for allegedly speeding past lava checkpoint

Big Island police arrest man for allegedly speeding past lava checkpoint

KAPOHO, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - Big Island police arrested a man on Saturday after he allegedly ignored police orders and sped past a checkpoint in Kapoho.

Around 8:30 a.m. Saturday a group of men drove up to a checkpoint on Government Beach Road, just north of Highway 132, when they were told by officers that they could not enter the area.

The driver, 62-year-old Allan Bartels, responded by ignoring officers and allegedly speeding past them onto the closed road.

Despite police pursuit, Bartels continued south approaching two county workers standing in the road. When the workers attempted to flag him down, the driver continued toward the two workers, causing them to jump out of the roadway to avoid being hit.

Police pursued Bartels to a house near Government Beach Road where they were finally able to stop and arrest him.

Officers then quickly left the area with the suspect because the lava flow was 50 to 100 feet away from cutting off an exit route.

Bartels was later hit with several charges including refusing to evacuate, obstructing government operations, and two counts of second-degree reckless endangering, among others. He was unable to post his $3,750 bail.

Bartels is just the latest in a string of suspected offenders who have been arrested near lava-ravaged Leilani Estates.

A few days after eruptions began, two Pahoa residents were also arrested for attempting to blow past police barricades. And on May 31, a man was arrested after crashing his truck into a lava wall in an attempt to see the pernicious lava flows.

Police officers, as well as county authorities, are urging people to stay away from lava-affected areas for their own safety.

In the month since eruptions began, 18 people have been cited for loitering in lava areas according to officials at the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Bartels is currently in the Hilo detention center.

"These people need to think. They are not only putting themselves into potentially life-threatening situations, but we can't completely lock gates or erect impassable barricades in areas where people have only one way out," Deputy DOCARE Enforcement Chief Jason Redulla said.

This story may be updated.

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