Police investigate two ocean-related deaths in West Hawaii

Hawaii Island police are investigating the ocean-related deaths of two visitors in unrelated incidents within 24 hours of each other in West Hawaii.

On Wednesday at 7:54 p.m., Kona patrol officers responded to Keauhou Bay to a report of an unresponsive woman aboard a snorkeling tour boat.


The woman, identified as 62-year-old Barbara Bentrup of St. Louis, initially had difficulty breathing.

Bentrup was assisted to the deck of the vessel, where she remained conscious for 10 minutes before going unresponsive, police said. Staff performed CPR as the vessel returned to the dock.

At the dock, Hawaii Fire Department medics took over, and Bentrup was transported to Kona Community Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 8:44 p.m.

In the other incident, police say a Texas man was a possible drowning victim Thursday morning.

At 11:33 a.m. Thursday, officers responded to a report of an unresponsive man who was pulled out of the ocean at Kauna‘oa Bay in South Kohala.

A lifeguard observed the man face-down in the ocean, pulled him to shore, and began CPR.

Hawaii Fire Department medics arrived on scene and continued CPR while transporting the victim to the Queen’s North Hawaii Community Hospital.

The unresponsive man, later identified as 68-year-old Charles Yanez of Katy, Texas, was pronounced dead about an hour later at 12:22 p.m.

Police have initiated coroner’s inquest investigations into both deaths and have ordered an autopsy for each case to determine the exact cause of death.

No foul play is suspected at this time in either case. Police ask anyone with information pertinent to either of these incidents to call the police department’s non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311.

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