State briefs for April 20

School settles with drowned boy’s family

HONOLULU — The family of a 5-year-old boy who drowned during a kayaking excursion reached a $7.2 million settlement in a lawsuit against the private school that operated the spring break program.

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In announcing the amount Monday, lawyers for the family said it’s the largest publicly disclosed settlement in Hawaii for the death of a child.

Alaric Chiu’s parents filed the lawsuit against Mid-Pacific Institute and its employees, alleging reckless and grossly negligent conduct caused the boy’s death. Mid-Pacific Institute didn’t immediately comment.

The kindergartner was participating in the school’s spring break day camp when he drowned off Kaaawa on Oahu in 2019.

Camp counselor Maria Davis, 63, also drowned when the kayak carrying four people capsized.

Two other students escaped injury by clinging to the boat, which was designed for two people and was not equipped with life vests, according to the lawsuit.

Kayaking also wasn’t listed in the program’s itinerary and was meant to be a surprise for the students, the lawsuit said.

Alaric didn’t know how to swim, it said.

Dozens protest 2 police shootings

HONOLULU — Dozens of people gathered in Waikiki during the weekend to protest two recent police shootings on Oahu.

The demonstrators at Saturday’s protest said they were there to demand justice for the victims.

On April 5, Honolulu police officers shot and killed 16-year-old Iremamber Sykap after the teen allegedly committed several crimes throughout the course of several days.

The three officers who used their guns during that incident were placed on administrative leave.

Last Wednesday, Lindani Myeni, a 29-year-old Black man, was shot and killed by police in the Nuuanu area after allegedly entering into a stranger’s home.

Liz Rees, a member of Refuse Fascism Hawaii group, which organized Saturday’s protest, said the group gathered to demand justice for “all victims of police murder, all victims of police brutality.”

“And, for people who think that this doesn’t happen here in Hawaii, it does,” Rees said.

New fish species named after UH researcher

HONOLULU — A new species of fish was discovered during a research study funded by the National Science Foundation and University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program that focused on deepwater snappers.

The new species was named Etelis boweni by the research team in recognition of Brian Bowen, a research professor from UH who has spent more than three decades studying marine fish.

Bowen called the naming “an honor of a lifetime.”

A new paper in the Journal of Fish Biology names the new type of fish, which looks similar to other deepwater snappers found in Hawaii but is genetically different.

Both fish species are bright pink in color and occur at depths of 650-1,300 feet throughout the Indian and Pacific oceans.

Etelis boweni grows much larger than its counterparts in Hawaii and has smaller eyes.

Kim Andrews, the scientist who led the international research team, said the discovery was valuable because the new species can now be managed differently than its deepwater snapper counterparts.

“The discovery of the new species has important implications for fisheries management, especially in areas where both species occur together, since it’s important for different species to be managed separately,” Andrews said in a statement.

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Bowen has been a research scientist at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology at UH since 2003. He leads a research lab that has used genetics to aid the conservation and biodiversity of marine fishes.

“It is particularly fitting to name this species after Brian since he specializes in fish genetics, and it was the genetic data that led to its discovery,” Andrews said.

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