Hawaii tourist injured by ‘booby trap’ while trespassing to reach Haiku Stairs

Hawaii tourist injured by ‘booby trap’ while trespassing to reach Haiku Stairs


Hawaii tourist injured by ‘booby trap’ while trespassing to reach Haiku Stairs

A Utah tourist was injured by what he described as a “booby trap” while admittedly trespassing to access the off-limits Haiku Stairs on the Hawaiian island of Oahu.

Jonathan McWillie told Hawaii News Now that he slipped in wet conditions while scaling a Kaneohe property owner’s fence at 2 a.m. on Feb. 17. His neck was partially impaled by large screws protruding from a fence-top device seemingly designed to discourage trespassers.

Fence-top box with outward-facing screws pictured in video screen grab

McWillie, who was with friends, was rushed to a hospital and doctors spent two hours stitching two-inch-deep puncture wounds.

“If I got caught by police and was issued a trespassing violation … I was fully willing to pay that,” McWillie told Hawaii News Now in a video interview this week. “Obviously, it wasn’t something I was willing to pay [for] with my life.”

Jonathan McWillie displays bandaged neck wounds in video screen grab

The incredibly steep Haiku Stairs, or “Stairway to Heaven,” afford stunning views of the island landscape. They’ve been closed since 1987 because of safety issues, but hikers often risk the $1,000 fine for trespassing.

“Private property” and “No trespassing” signs are clearly displayed on area fences.

McWillie, a photographer, said the primary reason for his vacation was to climb the Haiku Stairs. He’s considering a lawsuit against the property owner on which the so-called booby trap was placed.

The Haiku Stairs, although closed to the public, afford stunning Oahu views. Photo: Wikipedia

The property owner was not reached for comment. But nearby resident John Long spoke out against McWillie and all trespassers.

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“He shouldn’t have been in the man’s yard, or whoever’s yard it was,” Long said. “I’m not gonna say it was a trap, but you don’t belong there. Don’t go in anybody’s yard. I wouldn’t trespass in someone’s yard. I wouldn’t want to invade someone’s privacy.”

The Haiku Stairs are owned by the Board of Water Supply, which is examining plans to reopen the stairs with managed access. The incident did not occur on BWS property and the board had no comment.

According to Unreal Hawaii, the Haiku Stairs are comprised of 4,000 steel steps on a ridge overlooking the Valley of Haiku. The steps were installed for military access to a radio antennas 2,000 feet up the slope during World War II.

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