EXCLUSIVE: "Human error" caused fatal zipline accident

EXCLUSIVE: Zipline worker wasn't tethered to platform
Published: May. 6, 2014 at 8:34 PM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It was a tragic death.  Witnessed by several people and caught on video. Patricia Rabellizsa fell 150 feet while working at the Pi'iholo Zipline course in upcountry Maui.

The 29-year-old was working the platform at the end of the tour, catching people coming in Thursday morning.  One rider was coming in fast and instead of standing back and letting the safety spring at the end of the cable make the stop,  Rabellizsa grabbed the person and when the safety spring activated, both were thrown off the platform.

The rider was holding on to Rabellizsa as they were dangling in the air.  She said, out loud, that she shouldn't have done what she did.  Seconds later, she slipped from the rider's grip.  Her body was found in a stream below.

Police sources say Rabellizsa was not tethered to the platform or wearing any type of safety harness.  There is no law requiring employees be attached to the platform but most companies require their employees to wear a harness.

"It's a terrible tragedy, that poor young woman," says state lawmaker Angus McKelvey, "Reports are beginning to indicate that this is a workplace safety (issues), errors and omissions, (so) that's the area we really need to focus on."

McKelvey wants to introduce a new bill that would require zipline companies to register with the state and undergo inspections.

"Workplace safety and education are so important," says McKelvey, "Employees need to go through training on workplace safety."

Attempts at legislation in the past have failed for several reasons, but McKelvey is confident this time.

OSHA inspectors spent several days at the site but will not reveal any details on the investigation.

The video of Rabellisza's accident has been turned over to Maui Police for their own investigation.

Copyright 2014 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.