Hit-and-Run Leaves 71-Year-Old Man Dead in Kealakekua

A 71-year-old Kealakekua man died Thursday (February 28) from injuries he sustained in a motor vehicle/pedestrian crash on the Hawaii Belt Road (Route 11) and Hokukano Road in Kealakekua.
Responding to a 1:32 a.m. call, Kona patrol officers determined that the pedestrian was walking in a northerly direction on the mauka shoulder of the highway when an unknown vehicle struck him.

The driver of the vehicle fled the scene.

The pedestrian was transported to the Kona Community Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 3:54 a.m.

Police are looking for a sedan with damage to the front end, hood and possibly the windshield.

Traffic Enforcement Unit officers have initiated a negligent homicide and accident involving death or serious bodily injury cases.

An autopsy has been ordered to determine the exact cause of death.

The name of the victim is being held pending positive identification and notification of the next of kin.

Anyone with information regarding this crash is asked to call Officer Larry Flowers at 326-4646, extension 229.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo or 329-8181 in Kona and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

This is the 9th traffic fatality on the Big Island this year compared to 5 at the same time last year.


Mamalahoa Highway Bypass Now Open 24/7

The Mamalahoa Highway Bypass is now open 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide much-needed traffic relief to the families of South Kona.countylogo

The bypass is located midway between the shoreline and Mamalahoa Highway. The bypass starts at the southern edge of Keauhou and runs approximately three miles to the bottom of Haleki’i Street in Kealakekua’s Kona Scenic subdivision.

The Mamalahoa Highway Bypass first opened in 2009 under a temporary agreement with 1250 Oceanside Partners, the developer of Hokuli’a. Initially, the bypass was only open in one direction for limited hours. Even under those conditions, the alternate route provided alleviated traffic congestion and frustration. The agreement later allowed for two-way traffic for longer hours.

“We’re happy to announce that this much-needed bypass is now permanent,” said Mayor Billy Kenoi. “It is yet another important piece of infrastructure critical to improving the traffic situation for the people of West Hawai’i.”

1250 Oceanside Partners conveyed all of its right, title and interest from the Ali’i Drive entrance to the Haleki’i Street intersection to the County in December 2012. The 4,284 feet of Haleki’i Street from Mamalahoa Highway Bypass to Muli Street was conveyed to the County in November 2012.

In preparation for opening the bypass 24/7, the Department of Public Works completed improvements to the bypass, including paving the shoulders, installing guardrails, removing a speed hump, restoring the road at the Ali’i Drive entrance, removing stop signs and striping turn lanes at the Haleki’i Street intersection. Signs prohibiting bicycles, pedestrians, mopeds, vehicles over three tons and scooters were removed. The 45 mph posted speed limit on the bypass and the 25 mph limit on Haleki’i Street will remain.

A large portion of the South Kona community works in either North Kona or South Kohala and commutes daily along Mamalahoa Highway. The two-lane bypass gives motorists an alternate route between North and South Kona. Opening this bypass was one of Mayor Kenoi’s priorities upon taking office in December 2008. The Mayor was personally involved in talks with Mauka Kona residents to insure that the opening of this bypass helps meet the critical need for the transportation infrastructure in West Hawai‘i.

“The more we improve our island’s road infrastructure and mass transit system, the less time our working people will be spending in traffic, and the more time they will be spending at home with their families,” said Mayor Kenoi.

Future plans include extending the Mamalahoa Highway Bypass from the intersection with Haleki’i Street to the junction of Mamalahoa Highway and Napo’opo’o Road.


Tour Groups Seeking Dismissal of Federal Wrongful Death Lawsuit After Teen Swept Out to Sea

Two tour group companies are seeking dismissal of a federal wrongful death lawsuit filed against them after White Plains teen Tyler Madoff was swept out to sea July 4 while on a guided tour in Hawaii.

Golden, Colo.-based Bold Earth Teen Adventures and Kealakekua, Hawaii-based Hawaii Pack and Paddle LLC, claim the lawsuit filed by Tyler’s parents in August in federal court in Honolulu was filed in the wrong court.

In motions filed Nov. 1 in federal court, the companies argue that the 15-year-old’s parents, Michael and Marianne, entered into two contracts prior to the trip, binding them to litigate any lawsuit in Jefferson County, Colo., which is the county where Bold Earth is headquartered. A “Liability Agreement” was executed electronically “more than five months before the trip” and a “Parent Agreement” was hand-signed by Marianne “more than three months before the trip,” the motions say…

Full Story here: Companies seek dismissal of wrongful death lawsuit filed after teen swept out to sea

Workshop: Integrated Pest Management of the Coffee Berry Borer

A workshop for coffee growers will feature an international expert who has more than a decade of experience dealing with the coffee berry borer in Columbia.

The 2-day workshop will be held on Friday and Saturday, Aug. 24 & 25 at the Kona Hongwanji in Kealakekua, The fee is $25 and you can register online or pay at the door. For more information on the workshop and registration information, link below.

Integrated Pest Management of the Coffee Berry Borer Workshop

Fair Wind Excursions Now Offering Snuba Option

Hawaii Island’s award-winning ocean activities company, Fair Wind Big Island Ocean Guides, has introduced Snuba to their line-up of ocean fun.  Snuba, a combination of “snorkel” and “scuba,” is an underwater breathing system developed by Snuba International. It requires no prior dive experience or certification.

“Snuba was created for anyone with an ability to swim who may want to experience breathing underwater,” explained Penn Henderson, Fair Wind’s Director of Sales and Marketing. “It is perfect for couples, families, children eight years and older and seniors; anyone who wants to add to their Fair Wind adventure.”

Following a 15-minute safety briefing with a skilled, certified Snuba Guide, participants use swimfins, a dive mask, weights and a diving regulator with an air source from a raft at the surface. Snuba is a great way for a certified diver to introduce non-certified partners to the underwater breathing experience and a fun way to see Hawaii’s Technicolor marine life from beneath the ocean’s surface.

Snuba allows participants to dive two feet, ten feet, or twenty feet; whatever they may be comfortable at. A Snuba guide is with them the entire time.

Snuba is available aboard Fair Wind II Cruises to Kealakekua Bay. Guests sign up on board with the Snuba Guide and cost is $69 per person. Visit www.Fair-Wind.com or call 808-322-2788 to learn more.

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West Hawaii Community Health Center Kealakekua Expands Care to Serve All Ages

West Hawaii Community Health Center Kealakekua is making quality healthcare more accessible in South Kona by expanding care to serve all ages. “We have expanded our West Hawaii Community Health Center in Kealakekua to better serve our community,” said Richard Taaffe, WHCHC Director. “Two additional exam suites have been added to accommodate patients of all ages – from keiki to seniors.”

Beginning Wednesday, June 6, 2012, Dr. San Tun, a Board Certified Family Physician, will join pediatricians Dr. Locatelli and Dr. Stevenson at the West Hawaii Community Health Center-Kealakekua located in the Selwyn Plaza at 81-6627 Mamalahoa Hwy., Suite 106.

Dr. San Tun will accept patient appointments (adults and children) Tuesday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Medical appointments for keiki will continue on Mondays through Saturdays.

Before moving to Kona, Dr. San Tun worked in urban and rural medical practices in France and California. Dr. San Tun has traveled the world on emergency medical missions in Somalia and at refugee camps in Thailand and Burma. She is conversant in Spanish, French and English.

Dental care appointments for keiki are also available at West Hawaii Community Health Center on Mondays through Thursdays.

To make a new adult care appointment, patients may call 326-5429. Keiki and dental appointments are being accepted at 323-8005.

Big Island Police Arrest 19-Year-Old in Connection with String of Burglaries

Big Island police have charged a Kealakekua man with eight offenses in connection with three burglaries in West Hawaiʻi.

Albert Watai

Albert Watai

The most recent burglary, at a business in Kainaliu town, was reported at 2:25 a.m. Sunday (October 23).

Police investigation led to the arrests later Sunday of 19-year-old Alexander Watai of Kealakekua, a 17-year-old boy and two 16-year-old boys.

Police recovered smoking pipes and clothing valued at $13,620 that had allegedly been taken during the burglary. Police also recovered tobacco products and lighters reported stolen from another Kainaliu business during burglaries on September 25 and September 27. Value of the items stolen on those dates was $1,700.

Watai was held at the Kona police cellblock and the juveniles were released to their parents pending further investigation by detectives from the Area II Criminal Investigations and Juvenile Aid sections.

At 9 p.m. Monday (October 24), detectives charged Watai with criminal property damage, three counts of second-degree burglary and four counts of second-degree theft. He remained at the Kona cellblock in lieu of $15,000 bail until his initial court appearance on Tuesday (October 25).