Man Dies While Picking Mangoes – UPDATED
Electrocuted from overhead power lines
By Melissa Kelsey
UPDATE: According to bystanders, the man did not actually touch the electric line with the metal fruit-picking pole. It has been reported that when the pole came into close proximity of the line, the electricity arched from the line to the pole.
A Molokai man picking mangoes died last Friday as a result of his fruit picker touching overhead power lines. Police said the victim, Kamuela Hanapi of Kaunakakai, was harvesting mangoes with a homemade aluminum fruit picker of 20 to 25 feet in length.
Police received an emergency call from the victim’s wife at 7:35 a.m., reporting a possible electrocution. Police and firefighters arrived at the scene, located on Kamehameha V Highway near mile marker 10 in east Molokai. The victim was taken to Molokai General Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.
“He was a humble, outgoing, nice guy with a good heart,” said a friend of the victim. “He liked to give away fruit. He loved his kids.”
The victim was the third person to die in the state of Hawaii while picking fruit during the last three weeks. On Tuesday, June 30, a man died on Maui after he was electrocuted while picking mangoes with a metal fruit picker. On Wednesday, July 8, an Oahu man died from the same cause while harvesting avocados.
Maui Electric Company released a statement last Friday, reminding the public to use extreme caution when picking fruit near overhead power lines.
“The fact that overhead power lines are energized and dangerous cannot be emphasized enough,” said Ed Reinhardt, President of Maui Electric Company. “During this time when many of our local fruits are in season, we urgently remind the public to follow basic safety precautions when picking fruit,” he said.