Lawmakers in Hawaii to reconsider charging rogue hikers for rescue


The Hawaii Senate is reconsidering allowing county emergency departments to charge out-of-bounds hikers for rescue costs as government spending remains under pressure because of the coronavirus pandemic.

A Senate bill would allow counties to issue criminal fines in addition to seeking reimbursement from hikers requiring rescue after leaving marked trails or ignoring “closed” or “no trespassing” signs, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Sunday.

The bill also would add new petty misdemeanor penalties for hiking illegally.

A revised version of a different Senate bill would only give counties the option of seeking reimbursement.

Hikers across the islands every year are rescued by county police and fire departments using helicopters and other equipment in costly operations that can risk the lives of their personnel.

A Honolulu Fire Department helicopter searching for a missing hiker crashed in 1995, killing the pilot and two Honolulu police officers.

Suzanne Case, chairwoman of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, provided written testimony supporting the original bill that only seeks repayment.

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