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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, October 18, 2002

Husband not aware wife missing when ship sailed

Advertiser Staff and News Services

HILO, Hawai'i — A cruise ship passenger found dead Tuesday on a Kilauea lava flow probably decided to take a ground tour to the volcano instead of a helicopter tour with her husband because she gets airsick, a family friend said yesterday.

Officials said foul play is not suspected in the death of Jacqueline Gast, 45, of Fort Myers, Fla., who was a passenger aboard the Norwegian Star cruise ship with her husband John. The cause of death has not been officially determined, as an autopsy has been delayed pending the arrival of a medical examiner from Honolulu or Maui.

The woman's husband was not aware that Gast was missing when the ship sailed out of Hilo about 1 p.m. Monday en route to Fanning Island in the Republic of Kiribati, said Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park ranger Mardie Lane. The couple had split up earlier in the day when Gast left the pier at about 8:15 a.m. on a Shinjin Tours bus carrying 10 other cruise ship passengers. John Gast had decided to view the volcano by air.

The only reason the couple might have separated during the cruise would be because Jacqueline Gast was prone to air sickness, said friend Karen Lee of Fort Myers.

Jacqueline Gast was "the type of woman who would never go off an unmarked path," Lee said.

Soosin Kwak, wife of Shinjin Tours owner Sungki Kwak, told the Hawai'i Tribune-Herald that Gast failed to show up for an 11 a.m. rendezvous to return to the ship. The van's driver informed a park maintenance worker that the woman would need to find other arrangements to get back to the harbor.

Soosin Kwak said there was some confusion when the van returned to the pier, and at one point Sungki Kwak was told by one of the drivers that the woman had been located, the Tribune-Herald reported. "We thought they had found her," Soosin Kwak said. "If we knew somebody was missing we would have gone looking for them."

The Fort Myers News-Press contributed to this report.