What Happened to the Tour Boat?
The Lava Ocean Tours boat was reportedly in the area of the lava entry into the sea for approximately 20 minutes. While some eyewitnesses said the boat was very close to the entry point, according to its captain, it was about 250 yards away when an explosion occurred, sending molten lava hurling through the boat and injuring dozens of people. One woman suffered a broken femur in the incident, while others had severe cuts and burns. The location of the explosion meant customers on the boat endured an almost two-hour ride back to port before they could get medical attention.
Although the Hawaii Fire Department reportedly considered sending a helicopter, officials decided not to because of the time it would take to reach the boat, issues with hoisting victims to the helicopter, and information from the boat operator that he was only 40 minutes away, according to reports.
Thirteen passengers received treatment at Hilo Medical Center, with four being transported by ambulance. Another 10 passengers received treatment for minor injuries at the Wailoa Harbor.
The explosion was caused when a large piece of lava, which can reach up to 2,000 degrees, hit the cold water. Experts say the shallowness of the water where the explosion occurred may have made the situation worse. Eruptions are known to sometimes be so powerful that even boulders have been ejected. Failure to respect the potentially awesome power of volcanic eruptions can lead to tragedy.
For the past 35 years the Kilauea volcano has erupted continuously, but in the past two months lava has spurted through new cracks. Since that time the lava destroyed 700 homes but caused only one serious injury—a broken leg—before the Hawaii lava tour boat incident.
Lava Boat Attorneys
At Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman, we have seen the devastating consequences of tourism-related accidents. We represented victims of Seattle Tour Boat accident, which killed five students and critically injured many more. Our attorneys advocate not just for our clients but for safety in the tourism industry, to hold tourism company operators accountable when they fail to prioritize customer safety.
If you or someone you love was injured in the Hawaii lava boat tour incident, our attorneys are here to answer your questions. Contact us for a no-obligation consultation. We’ll advise you of your rights and explain your options to you.
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Hawaii Lava Boat Incident Updates
Lava Boat Passenger Describes Explosion| Aug. 1, 2018
Lava boat passenger Jessica Tilton said she felt like she was encased in lava when the explosion occurred. Tilton was next to the railing on the left side of the lava boat when she was hit in the leg by a lava rock. She suffered a broken femur, broken hip, and fractured tibia in the explosion. Tilton told reporters she felt the boat got too close to the lava while other captains kept their boats further away.
Passenger Thought Boat was Too Close to Lava| Jul. 24, 2018
A passenger on the lava boat says he thought the boat was too close to the lava and others on the boat around him also felt the same way. Although the site of the lava initially awed the passengers, they reportedly became nervous as the boat got closer to the lava flow. Will Bryan was hit in the back by lava and says he assumed he was going to die in the explosion. He suffered burns and lacerations on his lower body.
Hawaii Lava Boat Tours Continue Despite Explosion| Jul. 17, 2018
Tour boat companies resumed operations following the Hawaii lava boat explosion. The Coast Guard revoked all special permits, so boats were not allowed to go closer than 984 feet from the point where the lava flows into the ocean. Lava boat operators said they would follow the rules that prevent them from moving too close to the lava.