EXCLUSIVE: Boat operator in fatal Kailua boating accident known for speeding
KAILUA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Gully Boy Wilson and his fishing crew were heading toward Rabbit Island in their boat when a 24-foot zodiac zipped past them heading out into the ocean. It whizzed by a few minutes later heading back toward Kailua Beach.
"They was trottling. They was wide open. White streak behind the boat. The boat was flying," Wilson said in his slight pidgin accent.
"They know we're in the water. They're flying past us guys ... It's just no respect. No aloha for sure."
That was 11 days ago and just minutes before same boat struck and killed 59-year-old Sri Shim, just 200 yards off of Lanikai Point.
Other witnesses also said the boat was speeding about the time it struck Shim and his hanai son Trey Albrecht, who were diving. Albrecht suffered deep cuts to his arm and bruises to his body.
"He came flying in ....(and then) you could hear the yelling of the guy. It wasn't 'aaah,' it was 'aaaaah! aaaah!'" said Kailua resident Brandon Taylor, raising his voice for emphasis.
Taylor said the divers had placed dive flags to mark where they were.
"When they brought the kayak in, he had the buoy, he had the flag, he had the anchor, he had everything," said Taylor.
When traveling within 100 feet of a swimmer or a diver's flag, boaters have to travel slow enough so that they don't create a wake of any measurable wave height.
"That day was a very flat day. And on the east side when the water is flat, everybody goes dive. We don't get that kind of cherry conditions," said Wilson.
Longtime beach users said they have often warned the boat's operator -- a 41-year-old Lanikai resident -- about speeding.
"There were a few incidents where people told him you have to slow down when you come in where there's kids swimming. There's people out there with kayaks. You gotta watch out for everybody," said John Deponte of Kalihi.
"He was always a speeder."
Deponte said he had a run in with the boater about three years ago.
"We came down on a picnic and we were fishing out here. And he was coming out from this shoreline here and he came in without stopping and he ran over our lines," said Deponte.
"I told him hey, hey slow down -- my lines. And he came out and cut the lines and I said wow, why you do that for."
Hawaii News Now is not naming the driver, who hasn't been charged. But we did go to his house seeking comment but he was not available.
Shim's death, which has been ruled an accident by the Honolulu Medical Examiner, has sparked outrage in the close-knit Kailua Beach community. Many are demanding answers.
"I think the public wants a more thorough investigation. I know I want a more thorough investigation of what actually happened, where the boat is and why the boat wasn't impounded," said Brian Amona, a longtime friend of Shim's family.
We found that boat in a Kailua driveway and not in the possession of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, which is investigating.
The DLNR declined comment, citing its pending probe.
A memorial service will be held at Magic Island at 2 p.m. Saturday. Friends and family will paddle out to the Ala Moana Bowls surf site where his ashes will be scattered.
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