Big Island boat captain accused of abandoning ship, being intoxicatedUPDATED 10:52 PM HST Mar 07, 2014Video Transcript
A tour boat captain accused of being drunk on the job gets arrested after police say he ditched passengers in the water... Good evening, I'm Yunji de Nies.. It all happened off the Kona Coast and KITV4's Brenton Awa has more in our top story tonight. This is what Keauhou bay looks like during it's popular Manta ray night tours ... Here's the view from below the surface ... roughly 30-yards from shore. That's how far a group of snorkelers were left without a ride Wednesday night after their captain and boat took off without them. 3532 "WHEN THEY WERE DONE WITH THE TOUR, THEY DIDN'T HAVE A BOAT TO GO BACK TO. THE GUY WENT OUT I DONT KNOW WHAT HAPPENED HE JUST DISAPPEARED." The captain of the Iruka tour company -- Spencer Erwin -- was no where to be found... Luckily -- more than a handful of other tour boats were in the area. 3445 "THE PEOPLE THAT WAS SNORKELING IN THE WATER, THERE WAS NO PROBLEMS THERE BECAUSE THERE WAS A WHOLE BUNCH OF BOATS OUT HERE AT THE SITE." Those snorkelers were taken back to shore by an Aloha Kona Tours vessel. Captain Pononui Lealao was on his way back with the Kona Ocean Adventures group when he heard what happened. 3508 "AT THAT TIME, NOBODY KNEW WHERE THE OTHER VESSEL WAS, WHERE THE CAPTAIN WAS." After taking his crew in -- Pono set out to find the missing boat and captain. 3649 "THIS IS KIND OF LIKE MY OFFICE OUT HERE SO I KNOW WHAT LOOKS NORMAL AND WHAT LOOKS NOT NORMAL. 4026 "IT'S THE LAW OF THE SEA, YOU GOT TO GO HELP YEAH. I WAS ALREADY IN THE WATER SO I HEADED OUT." Pono found Erwin within 5- minutes... And says the 30-year-old captain was in a daze but wasn't hurt. Pono towed the Iruka Hawaii tour boat in to Honokohau Harbor. 3950 "IT WASN'T REALLY THAT HARD TO FIND BECAUSE THIS AREA OUT HERE IS LIKE MY OFFICE, I KNEW EXACTLY WHERE TO GO. And so did police -- who were waiting at the dock -- and arrested Erwin under suspicion of DUI. The company Spencer Erwin works for -- Iruka Hawaii -- released a statement saying they "regret the recent incident" and "is suspending its tours in Kona until it can wholeheartedly know that such an occurrence will not happen again." We reached out to Erwin on his Facebook page but our message has not been returned.