Big Island news briefs 5-9

New director joins Subaru Telescope staff

New director joins Subaru Telescope staff


A new director joined the Subaru Telescope staff in early April, officials said this week.

Nobuo Arimoto began his official term as director April 1, following Hideki Takami.

Arimoto earned his Ph.D. in astronomy from Tohoku University in Japan in 1980. He held positions at the Observatoire de Paris-Meudon in France, 1984 to 1988; the University of Durham in the United Kingdom, 1988 to 1991; the Universitaet der Heidelberg in Germany, 1991 to 1993; the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Tokyo in Japan, 1993 to 2001; and National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, 2001-2012. He served as part of Subaru’s Time Allocation Committee, 2000 to 2004, and as chair of the Subaru Advisory Committee from 2004 to 2012. A heavy user of Subaru’s telescope — 59 nights as a prinicipal investigator in a little over a decade — Arimoto focuses his scientific research on understanding galaxy evolution and the properties of individual stars within galaxies.

Arimoto said his hopes for the telescope revolve around communication, cooperation and observations that help scientists to understand the invisible universe. While working in outreach efforts in Japan, Arimoto noted the infectious way contact between astronomers and students can impact them all. Students can view a “rare species,” the astronomer, while astronomers can feel the excitement from the students in learning about their chosen field. He also said believes Subaru can contribute a great deal in many areas of scientific research, including dark energy, planet formation and the distant universe.

Police identify Puna crash victim

Big Island police have identified a 51-year-old Puna man who died May 2 following a motorcycle crash at the intersection of Route 130 and Leilani Avenue in Pahoa.

The victim has been identified as Rikko J. Von Gato of Pahoa, according to the Hawaii Police Department.

Puna teen found

Big Island police have located Puna resident Stephanie Parsons, 16, who was reported missing.

Police identify
opihi picker

Big Island police have identified a 43-year-old Papaikou man who died Saturday reportedly while picking opihi alone in the Onomea area.

The victim has been identified as Paul Kaaukai, according to the Hawaii Police Department. An autopsy is scheduled to determine the exact cause of death.

Pahoa man drowns
off Kalapana

Big Island police identified the man who apparently drowned Sunday morning while diving in the ocean off Kalapana.

He was identified as Henry Kaawakoa, 44, of Pahoa.

Foul play is not suspected, police said.

The man was diving from a boat when his companions noticed him floating in the water, police said.

Hawaii County Fire Department rescue personnel from five units, including a county helicopter, responded to the 10:09 a.m. call Sunday and assisted in the recovery of the man’s body from the dive boat, which was en route to Pohoiki Boat Ramp.

According to the Fire Department, CPR was not performed by the boat operator because of the lack of personnel on the boat.

Rescuers recovered the victim from the boat using a Billy Pugh net and brought him ashore at Kalapana Seaview Estates, where medics determined the man was “obvious (dead on arrival),” according to the Fire Department.

He was officially pronounced dead at Hilo Medical Center at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, police said.

Police warn of
credit card scam

Big Island police are warning the public about a credit card scam.

A caller claims to be from the credit card company’s security and fraud department inquiring about a questionable charge to the person’s credit card. The caller — who provides the correct credit card number, the name of the bank that issued the card, and the cardholder’s address — promises to credit the amount of a supposedly fraudulent purchase to the cardholder’s account. The caller says he will start a fraud investigation and gives the caller a “control number” for tracking the investigation.


At this point, the caller asks the cardholder to provide the three-digit security code on the back of the card to confirm the card is in the cardholder’s possession. Later, the victim finds unauthorized charges to the account because the scammer was able to charge items using the cardholder’s security code.

Police advise the public to hang up if they get a call like this — even if it sounds legitimate — and to call the credit card company directly using the phone number on the credit card rather than any phone number the caller provides.