Army colonel killed in Waianae boating accident remembered for 'infectious laugh'

Army colonel killed in Waianae boating accident remembered for 'infectious laugh'

WAIANAE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Military officials have identified the man killed in the tragic boating accident in Waianae as Army Col. Kirk Slaughter.

The 49-year-old died Thursday morning near Waianae Boat Harbor after a fishing boat struck him.

He was in the water with his daughter at the time.

The accident has lawmakers once again calling for stronger enforcement and better education to prevent dangerous interaction between boaters and swimmers.

According to a GoFundMe page, Kirk Slaughter had an infectious laugh and was loved by everyone who knew him.

Army officials say the colonel was on leave and camping at the Pililaau Army Recreation Center.

Witnesses say he and his daughter were swimming right outside the harbor around 7 a.m. Thursday when a 21-foot vessel with two outboard motors struck and killed him.

"It's unfortunate that we had another death regarding a boat propeller. Government is in position to stop or minimize these deaths and that's what my legislation was about this session," said state Sen. Will Espero.

Espero said he will reintroduce his proposal to require propeller guards on all motor boats.

However, many in the boating community are against it because of high cost and its effect on steering.

"We need to protect our ocean users. We need to protect our local residents and our tourists. And although there is a small cost in putting these boat propellers or these guards on, you can't put a price on a person's life,," Espero said.

Officials with the Department of Land and Natural Resources said Waianae Boat Harbor is not a designated "Ocean Recreation Management Area" meaning there are no areas specifically for boaters or swimmers.

Legendary waterman Brian Keaulana, who is helping organize Hokulea's homecoming Saturday at Magic Island, said Thursday's accident is affecting how they allow people and vessels to mix in the channel.

"Give Hokulea and the rest of the waa the opportunity to finish their voyage. Pay respect, be patient…give us the area to maneuver, to create safety where safety doesn't exist," Keaulana said.

Hawaii News Now has been asking the land department about the rules for waters around the Waianae Boat Harbor since Thursday, but they have not responded..

Officials did say when more regulation was proposed for west side waters in the past, the community was against it.

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