A case of a misidentified bicycle ended in an hours-long helicopter search for a Hilo woman in the waters of Hilo Bay on Thursday.
In what police called a “bizarre” incident that lasted from Thursday evening into the early hours of Friday, 29-year-old Maria Duquette was arrested for disobeying an officer’s commands and various traffic offenses after she led police on a chase through Hilo town on a bicycle.
Hilo patrol Capt. Kenneth Quiocho said Duquette was observed by officers riding a bicycle that matched the description of a stolen bicycle around 8:40 p.m. in Hilo. When the officers attempted to stop Duquette to examine the bicycle, she fled on the bike until she ultimately reached the shore at Hilo Bayfront.
Abandoning the bike on the shore, Duquette jumped into the water and swam away. Officers reported that she was seen making obscene gestures and yelling at police before fading into the night.
Having lost sight of Duquette, police utilized a civilian boat to search for her, while a Hawaii Fire Department helicopter searched from the air.
“Anytime you jump into the water at night, it’s dangerous,” Quiocho said. “There’s no visibility, you can’t see if there are rocks, or sharks.”
Eventually, police received a report that Duquette had emerged from the ocean at Coconut Island.
When officers arrived, Duquette attempted to flee again by swimming away, but this time officers pursued her into the ocean and arrested her at approximately 12:20 a.m. Friday.
Duquette’s bicycle, it was discovered, was not the one described in the stolen bicycle case.
“If she had just let us talk to her, we would have just let her go,” Quiocho said. “Instead, she disobeys us and runs away, and we need to investigate that kind of unusual, bizarre behavior.”
Quiocho said he appreciates the cooperation of the community and fire department in searching for Duquette, and added that the situation, for the most part, “worked out for the best for everyone.”