Boat captain fined in death of diver

A Lahaina boat captain was ordered to pay $4,000 in fines after pleading guilty Tuesday to negligent homicide and other charges in the death of a diver who was struck by an inflatable boat in waters off Lanai two years ago.

Eric Olbrich, 44, of Lahaina also was ordered not to operate a vessel within 1 mile of Lanai as part of his one year’s probation.

He was sentenced Tuesday in Lanai District Court, convening in Wailuku, after pleading guilty as charged to the misdemeanor charge of third-degree negligent homicide. He also pleaded guilty to the violations of careless operation of a vessel, operating a vessel in excess of speed restrictions within 200 feet of a diver’s flag, operating a vessel in excess of speed restrictions within 200 feet of a swimmer and operating a vessel within 100 feet of a displayed diver’s flag.

The death occurred the morning of July 31, 2011, when 51-year-old Lanai resident Alan Amoncio was free diving just outside the break wall at Kaumalapau Harbor on Lanai.

According to police, Amoncio’s wife, Kittrick Amoncio, was diving with him when she saw the boat quickly approaching the harbor entrance. She was 50 to 70 feet away from her husband when she saw him surface and saw the boat drive over him, police said.

Alan Amoncio had marked his position with a red diver-down flag with a diagonal white stripe, according to court records. He suffered fatal injuries from being struck by the boat propeller, according to the records.

There was another crew member and 17 passengers aboard the Lahaina-based snorkeling tour boat operated by Ultimate Rafting.

The criminal complaint against Olbrich says he was operating the boat at a speed greater than a slow-no-wake speed.

As part of his sentence, Olbrich also was ordered to pay $8,483 in restitution and $275 in fees.

In exchange for Olbrich’s guilty pleas, the prosecution agreed not to seek a jail term. The prosecution also agreed not to reindict Olbrich on a manslaughter charge.

Olbrich had faced the felony charge before it was dismissed without prejudice last year after 2nd Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza ruled that some questions of law posed by members of the grand jury that indicted Olbrich should have been answered by the grand jury counsel instead of a witness.