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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Tourist falls into lava

By Kevin Dayton
Advertiser Big Island Bureau

HILO, Hawai'i — A member of a volcano tour group was burned by hot lava early yesterday when he fell during a trek near Chain of Craters Road in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park.

Guy Bouneau, 55, suffered first- second- and third-degree burns to his hands, right forearm and a portion of his right thigh, police said.

A member of Bouneau's tour group who declined to give his name said the 14 members of the group immediately reboarded their bus and took him to Hilo Medical Center at about 12:30 a.m.

From there police said Bouneau was flown to the burn center at Straub Clinic & Hospital in Honolulu.

Bouneau was listed in fair condition yesterday with burns over 8 percent of his body, said Straub spokeswoman Claire Tong. He suffered first- and second-degree burns primarily to his hands, Tong said.

Bouneau, of St. Gely DuFesse, France, was expected to return to France shortly, the group member said.

The tour group member who was with Bouneau on the outing said the group was made up of tour operators who travel to volcanoes around the world. They were well-prepared for the trip, he said.

"We know the risk. It can happen at any time," he said.

The tour guide for the group declined to identify the company that sponsored the tour or give any information about the accident other than to say it happened in the "pali" area near Chain of Craters Road.

Chief Park Ranger Paul Ducasse said park officials do not know exactly where Bouneau was injured other than it was somewhere near the end of Chain of Craters Road.

Ducasse said there was no trail open late Sunday or early yesterday that would let visitors get close enough to hot lava to burn themselves, which means Bouneau was in a closed area. He said the incident is still under investigation.

Last October Jacqueline Gast, 45, of Fort Myers, Fla., was found dead about 50 yards from an active lava flow after she apparently collapsed while on a volcano bus tour. Ducasse said an autopsy showed Gast died of natural causes due to exposure, which aggravated existing medical problems.

On Nov. 5, 2000, hikers Nancy Everett, 42, of Volcano, and Ivan Klein, 42, of Washington, D.C., were found dead about 100 yards from where lava was entering the ocean.

An autopsy determined they died of pulmonary edema caused by inhalation of steam. Pulmonary edema is an abnormal accumulation of fluid in the lungs.

Reach Kevin Dayton at kdayton@honoluluadvertiser.com or (808) 935-3916.