Maui police: Zip line worker not secured in deadly fall

By Clayton Wakida, KITV Digital Media Manager, KITV Digital Media Manager
Published On: May 06 2014 01:26:39 PM HST
Updated On: May 06 2014 04:07:32 PM HST
Piiholo Ranch Zipline
WAILUKU, Hawaii -

Maui County police released the findings of its investigation into the death of an employee at the Piiholo Ranch Zipline.

Police responded Thursday at around 9:50 a.m. to the Makawao business.

Initial reports indicated the employee, who was later identified as 29-year-old Patricia Rabellizsa, had fallen from a landing platform about 150 feet into the ravine below.

Police say Rabellizsa was working on the platform as a zip liner entered the landing platform at a high rate of speed.  The zip liner struck the spring at the end of the line and propelled the zip liner backwards.

Rabellizsa grabbed onto the zip liner to prevent her from going back down the line, according to police.  However, the momentum took both of them back onto the line.

Witnesses reported that Rabellizsa was able to hang on to the zip liner for a few minutes when she lost her grip and fell into the gulch below.

Rabellizsa was not secured to the landing platform with any type of safety harness.

This past legislative session, lawmakers did not discuss zip line safety legislation.

In 2013, lawmakers discussed a zip line and workplace safety bill, according to Rep. Angus McKelvey, who represents Lahaina, Kaanapali, Kapalua, Maalaea, Kihei, and North Kihei.  However, it did not pass.

McKelvey says in light of the recent death on Maui and another death on the Big Island a few years ago, it is time to take another look developing workplace safety standards for the zip line industry.

Back in 2012, the then-state auditor said a proposal to regulate zip line tour companies would cost $400,000 to set up and $350,000 to implement each year, with unclear benefits to making rides safer.

Based on 2009 insurance claims data from the company that insured 90 percent of Hawaii's operators, zip lines had an injury/participant ratio of 0.00006. This ratio is lower than that of archery (0.0006).

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