Hawaii man lava tube, death of an elderly man (Reports)
Hawaii police are investigating the death of an elderly man who fell into a lava tube on his property, according to a Wednesday press release.
The 71-year-old man – who has not been identified – had not been heard from or seen in several days, prompting authorities to go to his residence in Kaumana, Hilo on Monday.
Responding officers arrived to the scene at approximately 8.30am and located the man’s body, the release from the Hawaii Police Department states.
Authorities determined that the man had fallen through a ‘soft area’ of ground into a lava tube on his property.
Hawaii Fire Department Rescue crew responded to the scene and repelled down to extract the victim from 22ft below the surface.
He was taken to the Hilo Medical Center but was pronounced dead.
An autopsy conducted on Tuesday determined that the man died as a result of ‘injuries consistent with falling.’
‘No foul play is suspected in this case,’ the release concludes.
HPD Maj. Robert Wagner told Big Island Now that the man was ‘trimming some branches in his yard’ when the accident occurred.
Authorities are working to notify the man’s next of kin.
Lava tubes exist all throughout subterranean Hawaii and are created when the topmost layer of lava flow solidifies but has an undercurrent of lava flowing underneath, according to Atlas Obscura.
The hollow core is created when the lava drains away completely. Lava tubes can be accessed when their roofs have caved in.