Hawaii Couple Arrested for Boarding Flight After Allegedly Testing Positive for COVID-19
Kaua'i Police Department

A man and woman were arrested Sunday after they flew back home to Hawaii in spite of allegedly knowing that they had tested positive for COVID-19.

According to a statement from the Kauai Police Department, Wesley Moribe and Courtney Paterson of Wailua, Hawaii, face charges of “reckless endangering” after they put fellow passengers “in danger of death.”

Coco Zickos, the Public Information Officer at the Kaua‘i Police Department (KPD), confirmed to People on Wednesday that the couple were traveling from the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to Lihue Airport (LIH).

Zickos says the two, who were traveling with a 4-year-old child, had both tested positive for the coronavirus prior to boarding their United Airlines flight. ABC7 adds that the couple knew about their diagnoses during their pre-travel screenings.

CNN says the child's relationship to the two was not disclosed.

While People reports that Moribe and Paterson were instructed by officials to isolate and not board the plane, Zickos says they still got on their flight.

Zickos says law enforcement at Lihue Airport was notified about the couple and contacted them once they arrived in Hawaii. The two adults and the child were then escorted to a designated isolation room, where they were further investigated by officers wearing protective equipment.

After authorities determined that Moribe and Peterson "knowingly boarded a flight aware of their positive COVID-19 test results, placing the passengers of the flight in danger of death,” they were arrested and charged with reckless endangering in the second degree.

The two were transported to Lihue Headquarters, and later posted $1,000 bail each.

Officials add that the child was released into the care of a family member and Child Protective Services was notified.

In a statement obtained by People, a spokesperson for United Airlines said, “We are investigating this matter further to assess these passengers' ability to fly on United in the future."

"The health and safety of our employees and customers is our highest priority, which is why we have various policies and procedures in place as part of a multi-layered approach to create a safer travel environment," the rep continued. "Prior to traveling, all United customers are required to complete a 'Ready to Fly' checklist acknowledging they have not been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the last 14 days."

Though a spokesperson for SFO would not comment on the specific matter to People, the rep did say, "The airport would not be routinely informed on where passengers get tested, nor would the airport be advised of a positive test result."

Per People and CNN, it is unclear if either Moribe or Peterson has retained a lawyer.


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