Dam in Hawaii breaks killing 3
HONOLULU — Search-and-rescue teams found a third body on the island of Kauai Friday, three days after a privately-owned dam burst and released a violent torrent of tree-snapping water and debris.
Authorities said a woman's body was recovered in a stream bed. The body had not yet been identified, but the only woman who remained missing after the disaster was 24-year-old Aurora Fehring.
Though state and county teams planned to continue a land search, the Coast Guard said it was suspending an aerial and ocean search.
"We have exhausted our assets and all our available resources in this search," said Coast Guard spokesman Petty Officer Michael De Nyse. "Our hearts and prayers go out to the families of those who lost a loved one. It was hard to suspend the case. We don't like to do it."
Heavy rains overflowed reservoirs, flooded roads and farms, knocked out power and forced evacuations in the aftermath of Tuesday's dam break on Kauai. The state asked the federal government on Friday to declare Kauai and parts of Oahu a disaster, and asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency for assistance.
"In my professional opinion, it is beyond the state's capability and we need help," said Ed Teixeira, state vice director of civil defense. "Above all, there's been an impact on people and that impact is continuous."
The dead include 22-year-old Christina McNeese, who was pregnant and was to be married Saturday, and Alan Dingwall, 30. Those who had been searching for the missing have been hampered by the heavy mud, piles of broken trees, rain and the threat of another reservoir breaking.
"It is our hope that maybe there's somebody down there that we can still find alive," Teixeira said.
Also Friday, Attorney General Mark Bennett subpoenaed construction and maintenance records from the two owners of the Kaloko Reservoir as part of an investigation to determine how and why the dam failed.
The dam was on the same property that co-owner Jimmy Pflueger cleared without government approval, leading to a 2001 mudslide and $12 million in penalties and required payments. Officials from the Environmental Protection Agency have said they do not believe the work contributed to the dam break. Gov. Linda Lingle said the subpoena did not mean that authorities were seeking to find criminal violations.
"He has a greater ability to get information quicker than anyone else does because of subpoena powers," Lingle said. She added: "We are not presuming that there was anything criminal at all."