Three cited by DLNR for lava-related offenses

  • DLNR photo

    This rental Jeep was allegedly used by a couple from Little Neck, N.Y. to bypass a security checkpoint and enter Lava Tree State Park, which is closed to the public, to get close to the lava in lower Puna.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement adopted a zero-tolerance policy toward anyone who violates closures in the disaster area associated with the current eruption of Kilauea.

DOCARE on Monday night cited a tourist couple, Anthony Panuccio and Irene Rigogiannis, both 27 and of Little Neck, N.Y., for allegedly bypassing a security checkpoint on Highway 132, parking outside Lava Tree State Monument, which is closed, and then walking into an area with an “intensely active” lava flow, according to a written statement.

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The man and woman told DOCARE officers that a local resident told them how to get around the checkpoint. The pair was cited for loitering and refusing to evacuate during a pending disaster.

Officers also report that a boat tied up at the closed Pohoiki Boat Ramp was unable to return to the Wailoa Small Boat Harbor in Hilo.

The owner of the boat, 33-year-old Vitaly Novikov of Pahoa, received three citations for various boat safety equipment violations.

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All of the citations issued Monday are petty misdemeanors but can carry higher penalties because they happened during a disaster situation, according to the DLNR statement.

Acting DOCARE Chief Jason Redulla said, “The volcano emergency is an ever-changing situation, and people who ignore closures and warnings from police, fire and civil defense authorities not only put themselves in potentially life-threatening situations, but they are doing the same to our officers and emergency first responders.”

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