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Two arrested for trespassing after going to lava flow, may have poked flow with golf clubs


Stephen Koch

Stephen Koch

Two Puna residents were arrested Thursday (October 30) for trespassing into a restricted area near active lava.

Shortly before 6 p.m. Thursday (October 30), police responded to a report of two persons who were in the vicinity of an active lava flow located above Pāhoa town. Upon arrival, officers observed a man and a woman facing the flow within five feet of the lava and taking pictures. They were in possession of two golf clubs that had a ball of hardened lava on the end.

The pair were on County of Hawai‘i property beyond a fence. The path of travel indicated they had crossed private property to reach the viewing location. Sixty-five-year-old Ruth Crawford of Ainaloa and 59-year-old Stephen Koch of Nānāwale were arrested for the offense of second-degree criminal trespassing.

Ruth Crawford

Ruth Crawford

Officers later located a pickup truck and sports-utility vehicle in the Pāhoa Community Center parking lot registered to each arrested individual. Through the front windshield, officers observed household utensils dipped in lava on the dashboard.

Crawford and Koch were each charged with the offense and then released after posting $250 bail each.

Police encourage members of the public to report sighting of persons who may be trespassing near the active lava flow or in areas beyond police barricades.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

2 Responses to “Two arrested for trespassing after going to lava flow, may have poked flow with golf clubs”

  1. Jennifer Neal says:

    I was just wondering why it is a wrong doing that they were poking at the lava flow? I live in the Midwest of the US and was just wondering. Could some explain the reason to me? Thanks.

    • Terry Davis says:

      Jennifer, they were not arrested for poking the lava flow. They were arrested for trespassing, and ignoring and going around police barriers to keep them a safe distance from an active lava flow.


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