Sunday, May 12, 2013
Friday, May 10, 2013
A 57-year-old Victoria man collapsed and died Tuesday afternoon after hiking on a Hawaiian lava field little more than 50 metres from a subdivision on the Big Island.
Riccardo Scagliati and a Victoria neighbour had been hiking near the still-active Kilauea volcano and lost their way, Puna Police Sgt. William Derr told the Hawaii Tribune Herald. The men started out in the morning from the Kalapana viewing area and were “zig-zagging across the lava field” when they became lost.
Scagliati became disoriented and overheated, fell down and was not able to continue, Derr said in a statement Thursday.
Scagliati’s neighbour, also 57, went for help and more water, but then was unable to find his way back to Scagliati’s location, the statement said.
The first emergency call about their plight came in at 3:02 p.m. and the first of many responders arrived at 3:34, according to the fire department. A search helicopter was eventually required to locate Scagliati’s body.
The Victoria men had to contend with unfamiliar, baking-hot, black lava fields with knife-sharp edges in countless up-and-down formations, along with fumes from the volcano’s plume, said Derek Salinas, a professional guide with ’Ahiu Hawaii.
Salinas saw the helicopter land while leading a late-day hike.
“It’s extremely hot out there during the daytime,” said Salinas, adding that hiking during the day is too dangerous even with a GPS, knowledge of the terrain, water, snacks and walkie-talkies.
Although they were not much more than 50 metres away from houses, the uneven terrain could have prevented the men from seeing them, he said.
Aside from the heat radiating from black basalt, no trade winds were blowing on Tuesday, Salinas said.
Without those winds, so-called “vog” — a kind of volcanic smog combined with sulphuric fumes — can seriously affect the ability to breathe.
Attempting to hike the lava fields without a professional guide is “a huge danger,” he said.
An autopsy to determine the cause of Scagliati’s death is expected to be performed today in Hawaii.
Scagliati, who lived in Victoria for 55 years, had recently retired after a long career with the provincial government, most recently as a senior manager with the B.C. Liquor Board.
“He was an inspiration,” said daughter-in-law Amanda Scagliati, saying he always urged people to do their best and strive for growth. He loved to travel and he and his neighbour had been trying to take a trip together for some time.
“He was very, very proud of his sons and very loved by his colleagues,” Amanda said.
More than 100 people came to his retirement party and she expects even more will attend his funeral.
He is survived by his wife, Catherine, and two sons, Colin and Michael, as well as granddaughter Bella.