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‘A sudden loss’: Daughter says woman killed in tour boat incident had years of experience

The U.S. Coast Guard and Hawaii County police are investigating after a tour boat crew member died in a boating incident on Monday.
Published: Apr. 5, 2022 at 4:19 PM HST|Updated: Apr. 6, 2022 at 9:06 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The U.S. Coast Guard and Hawaii County police are investigating after a tour boat crew member died in a boating incident on Monday.

Family members identified the woman as 54-year-old Theresa Butts of Kailua-Kona. She was a mother of two daughters.

The Coast Guard said Butts was a crew member aboard a boat named the the Uhane Nui O Naia when the incident happened just after 6 p.m. near the Honokohau Small Boat Harbor.

The boat is operated by tour company Sunlight on Water, according to their website. The business runs nighttime manta ray tours.

Jeanette Butts said her mother had years of experience on boat tours before she lost her life.

“It’s a sudden loss that should have been avoided,” Butts said. “I just feel it so deeply because the ocean is missing a very passionate advocate. She loved every animal in the ocean — even the jellyfish.”

Authorities have not revealed what happened, but Butts said reports that her mother fell off the boat are not true.

“This was not negligence on her part or her deck hands. This comes down to negligence of ownership and the captain. This should not have happened,” she said.

Hawaii News Now has reached out to the tour company and is awaiting a response.

Anyone with information on the incident is asked to contact Petty Officer Graham of the U.S. Coast Guard at (808) 763-6520.

A GoFundMe has been set up to alleviate financial stress on the family and to help with service expenses.

This story will be updated.

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