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State briefs for May 28

Rescuers describe relief at finding hiker

WAILUKU, Maui (AP) — Three volunteer rescuers who found a hiker more than two weeks after she disappeared in a Maui forest described their elation and relief after spotting her near a waterfall in deep vegetation.

Javier Cantellops, Chris Berquist and Troy Helmers said Monday that they saw Amanda Eller from a helicopter Friday, 17 days after the 35-year-old physical therapist and yoga instructor went for hike on a Maui trail.

When they saw her, Helmers says he was in disbelief anybody would be hiking in the area. Berquist told CBS that they were “crying and screaming and laughing” when they reached her.

Cantellops told the “Today” show that “wrapping my arms around her was the greatest moment I can say about my life.”

Eller broke her leg and got a skin infection and severe sunburn but says in a Facebook video from her hospital bed that she “chose life.”

California man killed by shark loved the water

MAUI, Hawaii (AP) — The California man killed by a shark while swimming off Maui over the weekend was a frequent visitor to the islands and an avid scuba diver who had recently retired, a friend said.

A shark attacked 65-year-old Thomas Smiley while he was swimming Saturday in the Ka‘anapali Beach Park area on Maui, police said.

A witness said that when rescuers pulled him to shore and began CPR, he was missing a leg from the knee down. Smiley died at the scene.

Longtime friend Gary Taxera said on Sunday that Smiley was an optometrist from Granite Bay, California, near Sacramento.

Smiley regularly vacationed on Maui and enjoyed swimming, water skiing and racing cars, he said.

“He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time doing something in a place he loved,” Taxera said.

Smiley leaves behind a wife, three children and six grandchildren. Taxera described him as having a personality that was bigger than life.

“He was a good-hearted man, and people who didn’t get to know him, really missed out,” Taxera said.

Witness Allison Keller said that the man appeared unconscious when he was pulled from the water. He was swimming about 60 yards from shore when the attack happened, authorities said.

The last fatal shark attack in Hawaii was in 2015, when a snorkeler off Maui was killed.

Airman killed in WWII to be buried in Calif.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) — A New York airman who died in World War II will be buried in Southern California 75 years after his bomber crashed in the Pacific.

The Press-Enterprise reports that a memorial service for Staff Sgt. Vincent J. Rogers will be held June 5 at the Riverside National Cemetery. Rogers’ remains were identified earlier this year after being recovered from the Pacific atoll of Tarawa.

Rogers of Snyder, New York, and six others crew members died when their B-24 bomber crashed into a lagoon in January 1944.

The airman’s story is the centerpiece of an exhibit at the March Field Air Museum, which is near the airfield where he trained and the Riverside cemetery.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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