An elderly man died this week after falling into a lava tube on his property in Hilo, Hawaii, police said Wednesday. The victim's identification has not been released because his relatives have not yet been notified.
Big Island police responded to the Kaumana residence at about 8:30 AM on Monday following a report that the man had not been seen or heard from in several days. According to a press release, officials soon located the elderly victim in a nearby lava tube.
"It appeared that he had fallen through a soft area of ground into a lava tube on his property," police said Wednesday.
Hawaii Fire Department Rescue personnel repelled into the lava tube to recover the body of the victim, which was about 22 feet below the surface.
According to the National Park Service, lava tubes form from lava that flowed for many hours, solidifying on the top and sides of a stream but remaining liquid in the interior for a much longer period of time. After the lava flow stops, a lava tube cave remains, which can be large enough for people to walk through.
The victim was taken to the Hilo Medical Center and pronounced dead.
An autopsy performed Tuesday confirmed that the victim died as a result of injuries constant with a fall. The investigation is ongoing, but no foul play is suspected, police said.