After having been reported missing by his family, firefighters and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park rangers searched hours on end in an attempt at locating the missing man.
A lifeless body found below the crater rim of volcano
Unfortunately, early in the morning of 2 January, the man's lifeless body was found below the crater rim of a viewing area of the volcano. Helicopters were able to retrieve his body. The National Park Service confirmed:
After searching for the man in the darkness, National Park Service rangers and Hawaiʻi County firefighters located the man’s body about 100 feet below the crater rim, west of the Uekahuna viewing area at the summit of Kilauea volcano. Park rangers, assisted by helicopter, recovered the body around 8am.
A full on investigation has been launched in hopes to piece together the events preceding the man's untimely death. Jessica Ferracane, a Park spokesperson, has explained that the man's body was found in an area that is usually closed off to the public as it is not considered safe.
With multiple signs and barriers discouraging access, Ferracane believes the man was well aware he was not supposed to be there in the first place. His body was found 200 feet beyond warning signs.
Not only can falls of this nature occur in these types of locations, volcanic eruptions can have lasting effects in surrounding areas that could be very harmful to human life. Though the eruption at the summit of Kilauea is no longer active, United States Geological Survey explains that hazards are still very much present:
High levels of volcanic gas are the primary hazard of concern, as this hazard can have far-reaching effects downwind. Large amounts of volcanic gas—primarily water vapor (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), and sulfur dioxide (SO2)—are continuously released during eruptions of Kīlauea Volcano.
Volcanic smog creates the potential for airborne health hazards to residents and visitors, damages agricultural crops and other plants, and affects livestock.