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2nd sailor in 2 months dies after jumping into ocean at Hawaii cave

A second Navy sailor has died within the past two months after jumping into the ocean at the Spitting Caves, a popular cliff-jumping spot, near Honolulu, Hawaii.

Naval Aircrewman Mechanical 3rd Class Shannon Nunez, a 22-year-old sailor from Patrol Squadron (VP-4) based at Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe Bay, died Sunday, the Navy said.

Nunez was swimming with friends Sunday at the scenic spot at the end of Lumahai Street around 1:30 p.m. when she got into trouble after jumping 60 feet from the ledge and got carried away by strong currents.

Honolulu firefighters and Ocean Safety personnel located the victim and her brought back to shore at Maunalua Bay, where she was pronounced dead by paramedics. An autopsy will be conducted to determine cause of death.

Nunez, a Whittier, California, native, was serving as a petty officer and an aircraft mechanic, the Navy said in a statement. She reported to VP-4 in February. Previously, she was stationed at VP-30 in Jacksonville, Florida, from 2012 to 2014 and attended training at several commands in Pensacola, Florida, and Great Lakes, Illinois.

"This is a tragic loss for our Navy family," said Rear Adm. Rick Williams, commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific. "This tragedy reminds each of us of the need to heighten awareness and practice greater safety on and off duty."

Cmdr. Brett Thompson, commanding officer of VP-4, said, "Petty Officer Nunez's loss is a devastating impact to the Skinny Dragon ohana," He added, "We share deeply in her family's grief and extend our prayers and hearts to them."

Williams said, "Hawaii is a beautiful and special place, but there are inherent dangers in the surf, cliffs and trails." He continued, "I've called for servicemembers and their families to refocus and practice 'safety first' — especially during the summer but throughout the year. We need to do everything we can to prevent another loss like this."

On April 5, Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Gregory Spillman, of Alexandria, Pennsylvania, was swept out to sea after jumping into the ocean at the Spitting Caves.

Spillman enlisted in the Navy in 2012. He attended Hospital Corpsman "A" School at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, in January 2013 and the Field Medical Training Battalion at Camp Pendleton, California.

He was assigned to the clinic at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam in March 2013.

His wife, an active duty sailor, is stationed at Great Lakes, Illinois.

Spitting Caves is a popular spot for cliff-jumping in the Portlock. When waves that roll into the cave hit the back wall, whitewater is "spit" back out of the mouth of the cave.

Other reported Spitting Caves drownings have included Daniel Lowe, 27, of California, on October 2012; Glenn Cooke, 45, of Honolulu, on June 2010; Navy Operations Specialist 3rd Class Zachary Ryan Johnson, 21, Windsor, Colorado, and assigned to USS Lake Erie, on March 2006; Stephen LeBlanc, 29, of West Wego, Louisiana, on July 2005; and Daren Kataoka, 20, of Kapahulu, on November 2000.

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