Every year taxpayer dollars go toward rescue missions for hikers that go off trail. Now, a new bill seeks to go after hikers or groups to get back some of — if not all of that money.
State law already allows government agencies to get money reimbursed from hikers who went off trail and need search and rescue, but House Bill 1924 would require it, even if the hiker is found deceased.
“We have a huge problem with people going onto closed trails and prohibited areas,” said State Representative Sean Quinlan.
“The world has really changed now with Instagram. All of these knuckleheads want to be famous so bad that they’re willing to risk their own lives and it costs the state and the counties a lot of money to rescue them and look for them when they get lost.”
The law on the books was discouraged by the Honolulu Fire Department. They’ve said in the past that they don’t want hikers to avoid rescue because they might be fined.
“I agree with the Fire Department it is going to deter folks from calling for rescue,” said 808 Caveman Hiking expert hiker Marcus Griego.
“That bill could be several thousand dollars.”
Rep. Quinlan thinks that hikers in distress will call for help regardless of a fine.
“The fire department for years has asked us not to introduce any legislation like this because they feel very strongly that they don’t want anyone who’s in trouble to be worried about seeking help. Personally, I feel that if people are in trouble they’re going to call for help regardless.”
The hiker’s estate, guardians, or custodians could be responsible for the fine even if the hiker dies.
“Not only are we paying a lot of money for these people that are breaking the law we’re also putting at risk the lives of our first responders who fly in rough weather bad conditions repel down ravines and valleys who look for these people and again intentionally broke the law.”