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In Brief | Big Island & State | 2-7-14

Updated: 
February 6, 2014 - 9:25pm

Police ID S. Kohala crash victim

Hawaii Island police on Thursday morning identified the 52-year-old Kailua-Kona man killed in a two-car crash Wednesday morning on Queen Kaahumanu Highway in South Kohala.

The victim was identified as Matthew B. Lee, according to the Hawaii County Police Department.

Lee was operating a southbound red 1997 Ford F-250 pickup truck loaded with several empty propane and gas tanks when he apparently crossed the centerline and clipped a silver 2013 Dodge Dart four-door sedan before striking an embankment on the mauka side of the highway around 11:30 a.m., according to police.

Lee was transported to North Hawaii Community Hospital where he was pronounced dead upon arrival.

A 62-year-old man from Alberta, Canada, who was driving the sedan was uninjured. Three adult passengers in the sedan also were not injured, according to police and the Hawaii County Fire Department.

Queen Kaahumanu Highway was closed for several hours while police investigated the crash. Police do not believe alcohol or speed contributed to the crash.

Anyone who may have witnessed the crash should call Officer Christopher Kapua-Allison at 326-4646, ext. 229.

This is the fourth traffic fatality this year compared with seven at this time in 2013.

Man killed in construction site accident

A 38-year-old man died Wednesday afternoon after being struck by a large roller compactor at a home in Keauhou, according to the Hawaii County Fire and Police departments.

Police identified the man as Donny Loando of Holualoa.

Responding to a 1:08 p.m. report, fire rescue personnel found the 38-year-old trapped beneath the compactor that was partially on its side after apparently crashing into a carport at a single-family home in Keauhou off of Highway 180.

Police said Loando was operating the vehicle while constructing a private driveway when the compactor rolled backward down a steep slope and crashed into a neighboring residence’s carport. Loando was apparently thrown from the vehicle.

Loando was found awake, alert and complaining of pain to his entire body, according to the fire department, which noted personnel rapidly extricated him because of the compactor’s unstable position.

Loando was treated by medics and then transported to Kona Community Hospital in critical condition. Police said he was pronounced dead at 4:15 p.m.

No one at the neighboring residence was injured, according to police.

The Area II Traffic Enforcement Unit has initiated a coroner’s inquest investigation and ordered an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.

Anyone with additional information on the incident should call Officer Christopher Kapua-Allison at 326-4646, ext. 229.

Kealakehe High School pupil finds snail in school lunch

Officials at Kealakehe High School say they’re increasing the level of food inspection at its cafeteria after a student found a snail in his lunch.

The student found the snail Wednesday on a salad served at the Kealakehe High School cafeteria. Principal Wilfred Murakami said the salad ingredients were washed properly by cafeteria staff.

“We drain it, strain it in a colander and go ahead and turn it into a salad,” he said. “And in this particular case, one of the snails was lodged in one of the leaves.”

Murakami said the lettuce brought in by a local vendor in recent days had more snails than usual, KHON-TV reported. He added he is taking the matter very seriously.

Snails and slugs can contain parasites that can attack the nervous system, causing rat lungworm disease. Hawaii state epidemiologist Sarah Park said the illness can be debilitating, taking months or years of rehabilitation to recover.

Officials at the school said they’ve notified the vendor, a local farm.

Murakami also said cafeteria staff will be more diligent in inspecting and cleaning the school’s produce and other food “to make sure that none of these critters or insects get into it.”

Plastic bags OK for telephone books

Telephone books that are being delivered to Big Island residents this week in plastic bags featuring handles are not in violation of Hawaii County’s plastic bag ban ordinance, Department of Environmental Management Director Bobbie Jean Leithead Todd told West Hawaii Today on Thursday.

Because the handled plastic bag is not being provided by a business at checkout it does not violate the ordinance, she explained. Leithead Todd also said handled bags may be used by politicians and nonprofit groups to distribute material.

Starting Jan. 17, business were prohibited from providing single-use plastic handled carryout bags at checkout. That followed a one-year transition period in which businesses could provide plastic bags at checkout for a fee.

A business’ first violation nets a written warning. A second violation may result in a $250 per day fine; a third violation may result in a $500 per day fine; and subsequent violations may result in $1,000 per day fines.

Police searching for man wanted for abuse

Hawaii Island police are searching for a 41-year-old man wanted for abuse of a family/household member.

Justin S. Hollenbaugh, who also goes by the name Hacha Carva, has no permanent address but was last seen in Captain Cook, according to the Hawaii County Police Department.

He is Caucasian, 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighing 160 pounds with green eyes and brown shoulder-length hair that may be worn in dreadlocks, according to police.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts should call the department’s nonemergency line at 935-3311.

Those who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Volcano structure fire under investigation

Fire officials are investigating the cause of a Wednesday morning structure fire in Volcano.

Responding to the 10:40 a.m. alarm, Hawaii County Fire Department personnel found a 1,600-square-foot wooden post-and-pier utility storage building with smoke emanating from under the eves, according to the department. A neighbor, who was watching the structure for its owners who were not home, provided keys allowing firefighters entry to the building located off Pa Alii Street in Royal Hawaiian Estates.

Firefighters were able to quickly extinguish the blaze, which was located in the front area of the structure against a wall. The fire may have been started by a portable stove used as a heat source, however, the official cause remains under investigation.

Firefighters extinguished the fire by 11 a.m., according to the department. No injuries were reported.

The department estimated the loss at $5,000.

Fire officials investigating Pahoa structure fire

Fire officials are investigating the cause of a Wednesday afternoon structure fire in Pahoa.

Responding to the 2:04 p.m. alarm, Hawaii County Fire Department personnel found a wooden single-story post-and-pier structure engulfed in flames, according to the department. The heaviest damage was to the rear of the structure located on Mauna Kea Road.

Firefighters extinguished the fire by 4:20 p.m., according to the department. No injuries were reported.

The department estimated the loss at $90,000.

Man in custody for alleged robbery in downtown Hilo

Hawaii Island police have a 54-year-old Hilo man in custody following an alleged robbery Wednesday in Hilo.

At about 12:03 p.m., police responded to the Mooheau bus terminal after receiving a report of a fight. Upon arrival, they contacted a 32-year-old Hakalau man who reported that an acquaintance took an undisclosed amount of money from him while at Mooheau Bandstand, according to the Hawaii County Police Department.

When the Hakalau man attempted to retrieve the money, the 54-year-old reportedly punched him several times and fled the area, according to police.

The Hakalau man suffered facial injuries, according to police. Hawaii County Fire Department medics took him to Hilo Medical Center, where he was treated and released.

The suspect was identified as a man who frequents the downtown Hilo area. He was arrested at 8:40 a.m. Thursday on suspicion of second-degree robbery, according to police. West Hawaii Today is not identifying him by name because has not been charged with a crime.

Anyone with information on this incident or anyone who may have witnessed it should contact Detective Clarence Davies at 961-2384 or cdavies@co.hawaii.hi.us.

Those who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Police seek help identifying suspects in koa theft

Hawaii Island police are asking for the public’s help in identifying two men wanted for a theft in Puna last week.

Around 11:40 a.m. Jan. 29, a 60-year-old homeowner reported to police two suspicious vehicles and at least four men who were on his property in Mountain View and allegedly stealing cut pieces of koa wood, according to the Hawaii County Police Department.

The victim initially thought a relative was on the property and approached the vehicles and the men, discovering the men had loaded their trucks with the wood. After confronting two of the men, the victim managed to recover several pieces of his wood, according to police.

While he was calling police, both trucks fled the area. The victim reported he heard gunshots coming from the direction of the vehicles at a distance away. He discovered a chain preventing access to his property had been cut. The victim was not injured in the encounter, according to police.

One of the vehicles was described as a yellow full-size truck and the other as a red and white full-size truck, according to police. Neither vehicle displayed license plates.

One of the men — the passenger in the red and white truck — was described as “local,” in his 30s, about 5 feet 10 inches tall to 6 feet tall, weighing about 200 pounds with a muscular build, short black hair, and possible tattoos on his neck, according to police. He was wearing a light-colored short-sleeved T-shirt.

Another man — the driver of the red and white truck — was described as “local,” in his 30s, about 5 feet 8 inches to 5 feet 10 inches tall with a lighter complexion and short black hair, according to police. He was not wearing a shirt.

The victim said that one of the remaining suspects was taller than the others and the other was about the same height as the first two, according to police.

Anyone with information on this incident or may know the identities of the suspects should contact Detective Clarence Davies of the Area I Criminal Investigation Section at 961-2384 or cdavies@co.hawaii.hi.us.

Those who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Rescue crews find missing fisherman safe off Kauai

A fisherman who spent the night off the coast of Kauai is safe after U.S. Coast Guard rescue crews located him 5 miles off of Kapaa, Kauai, on Thursday.

Watchstanders at the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu command center received a call at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, from a man reporting that his friend was overdue on his 14-foot Boston Whaler. The 61-year-old fisherman departed from the Waikaea Canal in Kapaa, Kauai earlier in the day to fish a few miles off of Kapaa.

Coast Guard Sector Honolulu launched a 47-foot Motor Life Boat crew from Station Kauai, and the 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Kittiwake, a C-130 Hercules airplane crew and two MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crews from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point to search for the man.

An urgent marine information broadcast was also issued to all mariners in the area. The Kauai Fire and Police departments also joined the search.

At 8:09 a.m. Thursday, one of the helicopter crews located the fisherman and directed the MLB crew to the fisherman’s position. He was safely escorted back to Kapaa Harbor.

The search covered nearly 2,000 square miles.

By local and wire sources