Coast Guard identifies victim of fatal boating incident; more than $25,000 raised to support the victim’s family


U.S. Coast Guard officials Thursday identified the victim of a fatal boating incident Monday night as a 54-year-old female from Kailua-Kona.

Theresa “Reesa” Butts, crew member aboard the 40ft vessel Uhane Nui o Naia, which is operated by Sunlight on Water, died in an accident reported around 6pm in waters about 10 minutes from the small harbor boats from Honokohau to Kailua-Kona, U.S. Coast Guard officials said Thursday morning.

According to the Sunlight on Water website, the company offers dolphin watching, manta diving, reef snorkeling, and whale watching tours in Kailua-Kona.

The official said additional information, including whether the victim was struck by the vessel, could not be released due to the ongoing investigation, which is being conducted by the Coast Guard in conjunction with the Division of boating and ocean recreation from the Department of Lands and Natural Resources. and the Hawaii Police Department. The official, however, confirmed that the fatal incident occurred in the water.

Butts was brought to the port and EMS personnel later transported her to Kona Community Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

An “In Memory of Reesa” GoFundMe is raising huge donations for the victim’s family. In less than 24 hours, the crowdfunding campaign set up by friend Virginia Armstrong had far exceeded its $20,000 goal, raising $26,527 as of 10:30 a.m. Thursday.

“The ocean community suffered a devastating loss this week in a true tragedy. Anyone who knew Reesa knew immediately how passionate she was about the ocean and marine life, especially manta rays. I have never seen anyone so excited to snorkel with the mantas every night. She has found so much joy on and in the ocean,” the GoFundMe page reads.

The money raised, according to the page, will go directly to Butts’ family. “We raise funds to help with service expenses. Additionally, Reesa was her mother’s generous primary caregiver and all funds raised will go towards continuing that care. We appreciate your support. Be safe there,” the page reads.

On Thursday morning, Armstrong, who had been friends with Butts for about four years, checked GoFundMe and said, “The overwhelming support the community has shown his family is wonderful.”

Anyone with information related to the reported incident should contact the U.S. Coast Guard at (808) 763-6520 or the Hawaii Police Department non-emergency line at 935-3311.


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