Child Stuck In Ventilation Duct Shuts Down Lahaina Veil Station

David and Marla King’s Lahaina vacation didn’t end Saturday afternoon quite the way they had envisioned. Their 6-year-old son Dolton crawled inside an open ventilation duct in the Lahaina Municipal Veil Station while the family waited to return home, and remained trapped for over 4 hours before being rescued by emergency officials, and Veilcorp staff. Operations at the station were partially shut down during the incident, and Dolton suffered no permanent injuries.

According to Dolton’s mom, the family had planned the trip for months, and enjoyed their stay so much that the 6-year-old was upset about leaving. She says,

“We’ve let Dolton pick our vacation spots since he was 2. His understanding of the world wasn’t that detailed yet, and we basically just went to the first place he touched on the map that initial year, but we wanted him to feel like he had a voice in the family. Even though David and I weren’t really excited about going to the Death Valley region in the middle of summer, It was Dolton’s choice so we went. Luckily, he has learned a lot from watching videos since then, and he became obsessed with sea turtles. His favorite video, was from some tourists visiting Napili Beach just North of Lahaina. There was no doubt where we were going this year. Everything was fantastic until we told Dolton Saturday morning that he wouldn’t be able to bring one home with us.”

According to witnesses, an agitated Dolton had been screaming about turtles for several minutes while the family waited for their departure. A nearby maintenance crew, who had been working on a problem with the ventilation system, came to ask if everything was alright, leaving the return cover open. It was then fellow travelers say, that the young boy ran to the opening and crawled inside. The boys parents would spend the next 4 hours trying to convince Dolton to work with emergency services and Veilcorp staff, attempting to extricate the young boy. Veilcorp delayed most departures and arrivals out of safety concerns until Dolton was freed.

His mom adds,

“We’d like to apologize to everyone that Dolton’s learning experience affected. We don’t believe in excessive rules in our parenting style. We believe too many boundaries can impede creativity, and being told “no” too often can interfere with the formation of personality. Dolton knows what’s right for him 99% of the time, and we try not to interfere with his personal truth – unless he’s in physical danger. That’s where we draw the line. When he crawled inside the vent, demanding a turtle before he came out, we explained that we respected his wants, understood that he felt owning a turtle was a need, but that he was in potential danger, and needed to obey our wishes and come out. However, he felt that his feelings weren’t being give enough consideration, and moved further into the system. It was then the staff explained how dangerous the problem was.”

According to Head of Operations Dan Kukulu, a maintenance crew had been dispatched to examine, and repair a section of venting that had partially collapsed, and failed to reinstall the screen before engaging with the Kings. His report reads in part: “At approximately 3pm on April 15, 2040 a repair crew had identified a physical malfunction in the Eastern most ductwork. They were in the process of remotely replacing rivets to restore the integrity of the system, when they became aware of a child distressed about a turtle. It was soon determined that the turtle in question was not a lost pet, but instead the child’s desire to illegally transport an endangered hawksbill turtle for domestication, violating federal and state law. While staff discussed the matter with the family, the adolescent ran to the open vent and crawled inside demanding he be allowed to bring home a turtle. The situation was explained to him. He and his family were informed that part of that ventilation system had come apart, and the boy was in danger of being cut severely, or even becoming stuck if he continued to move further into the system.

It became clear that the child would not follow commands giving by staff on site, and the parents refused to tell the boy that he would receive a turtle should he comply with our directions. Stating they “could not lie to Dolton, because it would destroy the family trust structures.” Public safety officials were alerted, and all but emergency veil operations were shut down out of concerns over the child’s safety. Despite being given a lawful order by emergency services, the subject crawled all the way to the improperly joined section of ductwork, and reported that he was now caught.

Not wanting to endanger the child any further, a remote camera system, with a makeshift belt, was pushed up to the boy, and he was ordered to attached himself to the device. Knowing that it was unlikely that he would fully comply, most of the vent leading up to him was coated in industrial grease, and fans 15 and 16 were brought to 150% capacity, creating a considerable wind force through that section of venting. At approximately 7:12pm Dolton King was expelled from the ductwork, and treated for minor injuries. Customers resumed their travels soon after. and the damaged vent was cleaned, disinfected, and repaired before 8:00pm.”

Dolton was treated for minor cuts and scrapes and the family returned home later that night. Video taken by a delayed traveler depicting Dolton screaming inside the vent, and being shot out by a gust of air, has become a viral sensation with 4.7 million views in just one day. Working as an engineer on the Hoku Telescope, Aldrick Lehmann says he has a special connection with the Lahaina station, and was eager to get home when the incident happened. “My son was actually born here in the Lahaina station, so it holds a special place in my heart. Being a new parent I understand how hard it can be to travel with a young child, and I am usually sympathetic, but this was something else. I don’t know how many times this family tried to go through the departure line. Everytime they got close, the kid would scream about his turtle and run away. I started recording it to show my wife, and talk about where we’d have to leave Harrison if he ever acted that way. I thought the staff was going to throw them out when they approached, but the kid made a run for the vent. I couldn’t believe it when he crawled inside, but my laughter was short lived. They shut everything down for hours, and customers wanting to get on with their travels kept piling up.

Soon there were hundreds of angry travelers yelling at the family, and Veilcorp staff. I was really worried that things would turn violent, but then one of the maintenance crew ordered everyone to move back. You could hear the fans building up, and air started whipping out of vents. Dolton’s crying was drowned out by the howl of wind, and out he flew. I’m a father and a good man who cares about my son, and all children. I think most people are. But I have to tell you, everyone cheered when we saw that 6-year-old come flying out, and land on his face 10 feet away. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad Dolton wasn’t seriously hurt, but I know that the image of him being shot out of the vent will make me smile for the rest of my life. I hope that the King’s family vacations go better in the future, and that I’m never traveling on the same day as they are again.”