City films warning message about Spitting Caves

Published: Jun. 10, 2014 at 1:09 AM HST
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PORTLOCK (HawaiiNewsNow) - Authorities have identified the woman who died on Sunday after jumping from a cliff at Spitting Caves as Shannon Nunez. She was a sailor from Patrol Squadron 4, based at Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe, according to Navy officials. A spokesperson for the Medical Examiner's Office said the cause of death is pending further study, which could take six to eight weeks.

The city is about to release a new warning video prompted by a previous drowning at the same spot in April. Lifeguard James Sloane has made the heart-pounding jump at Spitting Caves many times to rescue people. Now he is playing the role of a struggling swimmer for a new public service announcement.

"It's not something I really do for fun anymore. I have done it for fun in the past, but now it's strictly on an as needed basis," said Sloane, an acting captain with the Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services Division.

The PSA project started two months ago after a 19-year-old Navy sailor died in the same area. Monday's filming happened to occur one day after the tragedy that claimed the life of Nunez. Friends said once she made the 60-foot drop, she ran into trouble trying to climb back up. They tried to help, but couldn't save her.

"We've made dozens of rescues over the years, and there's been less fortunate ones where 12 people have died over the last 5 years in the area. So extremely dangerous. We just want to encourage people not to jump at all," Sloane said.

"The PSA will show how much of a struggle it can be in the water and how difficult it is to get back onto the rocks and back to safety, but it will also give some tips if you do find yourself in that situation, what you can do to stay calm until help can get to you," explained Shayne Enright, spokeswoman for the Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services Division.

The city hopes that television stations and airlines will be airing the PSA in about a month. There are memorials honoring the lives lost at the scenic spot, but thrill-seekers still make the plunge.

"My friends have done backflips and all sorts of crazy tricks, but I've never jumped. I'm too scared," said Laie resident Beth Gameren.

"This is one of the most beautiful and dangerous places in Hawaii," said State Rep. Gene Ward (R, Kalama Valley-Hawaii Kai).

Ward wants to educate people about the danger through social media and the military. He also supports a fine for jumping into the ocean at Spitting Caves and wants to change signs at the entrance.

"I'd like to see that sign say 'No Jumping' and the penalty is such and such. Right now you can do loitering and picnicking and all those things you get a $500 fine. You can jump off here and get no fine. I want people to pay with their wallets, not their lives," Ward said.

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