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Police Investigating Two Ocean Related Deaths in West Hawai‘i

by Thunda
Texture of blue Ocean.

Hawai‘i Island police are investigating two ocean-related deaths that took place within 24 hours of each other in West Hawai‘i. The two unrelated incidents both involved visitors.

On Wednesday June 7, 2023 at 7:54 p.m. Kona patrol officers responded to Keauhou Bay to a report of an unresponsive female aboard a snorkeling tour boat. Staff from the tour boat related that at 5:45 p.m. a group disembarked the vessel to go snorkeling. About 7:45 p.m., a 62-year-old female, later identified as Barbara Bentrup, of St. Louis, Missouri, began having difficulty breathing.

The distressed snorkeler was assisted to the deck of the vessel where she remained conscious for 10 minutes before going unresponsive. Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) was performed by staff as the vessel returned to the dock. Hawai‘i Fire Department medics arrived on scene and continued CPR as Bentrup was transported to Kona Community Hospital. Unfortunately, efforts to resuscitate her were unsuccessful and Bentrup was pronounced dead at the Kona Community Hospital at 8:44 p.m. Wednesday evening.  

Hawai‘i Island police are also investigating a possible drowning that took place Thursday morning, June 8, 2023, in South Kohala involving a visitor from Texas.

At 11:33 a.m. on Thursday, officers responded to a report of an unresponsive man that was pulled out of the ocean at Kauna‘oa Bay, in the South Kohala area. 

A lifeguard observed the man face-down in the ocean, pulled him to shore, and began CPR. Hawai‘i Fire Department medics arrived on scene and continued CPR while transporting the victim to the Queen’s North Hawai‘i Community Hospital.

The unresponsive man, later identified as 68-year-old Charles Yanez of Katy, Texas, was pronounced dead about an hour later at 12:22 p.m.

Police have initiated coroner’s inquest investigations into both deaths and have ordered an autopsy for each case to determine the exact cause of death.

No foul play is suspected at this time in either case. Police ask anyone with information pertinent to either of these incidents to call the police department’s non-emergency line at 808-935-3311.

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