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In Brief | Big Island & State | 1-1-14

December 31, 2013 - 6:43pm

Man escapes serious injury after vehicle ends up in river

A man escaped serious injury Tuesday morning after his vehicle apparently left Akoni Pule Highway and traveled down an embankment before coming to a rest in a river underneath a bridge.

The man was driving a sport utility vehicle and headed toward Pololu around 11:30 a.m. when he apparently veered off the highway, near mile marker 27, and went down a steep, 20-foot embankment before coming to a rest below a bridge, said Hawaii County Fire Department North Kohala Fire Station Capt. Keoni Reich. The vehicle came to a rest on its tires in approximately 1 foot of running water.

Reich said the man, the lone occupant in the vehicle, did not suffer serious injuries, but required extrication because of the steep embankment. He was transported to North Hawaii Community Hospital. A tow truck was subsequently dispatched to pull the vehicle from the river.

29 arrested for suspected DUI

Hawaii Island police arrested 29 drivers for suspected drunken driving between Dec. 23 and Sunday; seven were involved in traffic accidents; three were younger than 21.

Police have made 1,343 suspected DUI arrests this year compared with 1,471 during the same period in 2012, according to the Hawaii County Police Department.

Kona officers arrested 13 motorists while South Hilo officers arrested 10, according to police. Puna officers arrested four motorists and Ka‘u and North Hilo officers arrested one driver in each district.

There have been 1,311 major accidents this year compared with 1,458 during the same period in 2012. To date, there have been 25 traffic fatalities on Big Island public roadways compared with 38 at this time in 2012. To date, five of the fatalities have been related to drugs; two to alcohol and six to a combination of alcohol and drugs, according to police.

Arrest made in Puna drug-related explosion

Hawaii Island police have arrested a 28-year-old Puna woman in connection with a drug-related explosion that sent a man to the hospital with severe injuries.

The Keaau woman was arrested Monday afternoon on suspicion of first-degree promotion of marijuana, second-degree promotion of marijuana, first-degree promotion of a harmful drug, promotion of a detrimental drug and four counts of possession of drug paraphernalia, according to the Hawaii County Police Department. She was taken to the Hilo police cellblock while detectives from the Area I Vice Section continue the investigation.

West Hawaii Today is not identifying the woman because she has not yet been charged with a crime.

At 8:16 p.m. Saturday, police responded to a report of a loud explosion at a home on 17th Street in the Hawaiian Paradise Park subdivision of Puna, according to police. When officers arrived, Hawaii County Fire Department personnel were already at the scene, where smoke was present but not flames.

The blast had knocked out windows, melted plumbing fixtures and blown doors off of cabinets, according to police.

The sole occupant at the time, a 30-year-old Keaau man, was initially taken to the Hawaiian Paradise Park fire station by private vehicle. He was then taken by ambulance to Hilo Medical Center with third-degree burns and later transferred to a hospital on Oahu.

The 28-year-old woman, who also lives at the house, was not home at the time of the explosion, according to police.

Police at the home reportedly recovered 102 marijuana plants from an indoor growing operation, more than an ounce of butane honey oil (a marijuana byproduct) in several stages of manufacture, three e-cigarettes and components associated with the manufacture of butane honey oil, according to police.

Anyone with information about any butane honey oil lab should call the department’s nonemergency line at 935-3311. Those who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 329-8181 in Kona or 961-8300 in Hilo and may be eligible for up to a $1,000 reward. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Maui-Lanai ferry company applies for new vessel

WAILUKU, Maui — A company that runs ferries between Maui and Lanai is asking state regulators for permission to build a $2.7 million replacement vessel.

The Maui News reported Tuesday that Hone Heke Corp., the parent company of Expeditions, applied to the Public Utilities Commission this month to finance and build the ferry.

Hono Heke President Bill Caldwell said in the application that the company believes a new vessel will be needed before 2015 to meet increased demand.

Caldwell said Larry Ellison, the Oracle billionaire who owns the vast majority of land on Lanai, intends to overhaul its resorts, build new residences and take on other projects.

Caldwell said construction companies have already asked the ferry company about charter transportation for workers to Lanai. The vessel would be built in Washington.

Teen charged with beating homeless man to death

HONOLULU — Honolulu police say a 16-year-old boy has been charged with beating a homeless man to death.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Tuesday that a petition has been filed to lessen charges from murder to manslaughter.

Police said the victim was 62-year-old Anthony Montero, who described himself as a freelance journalist. He also ran unsuccessfully for several political offices under the name Paul A. Manner.

Police arrested the teen Monday but have declined to release his name because he is a minor.

Authorities said Montero was beaten by a group of teens east of downtown Honolulu last week, where he was sleeping.

Police spokeswoman Teresa Bell said they are not seeking other suspects.

Guam robbery suspect says he was forced to commit crime

HAGATNA, Guam — Authorities say a man accused of robbing a woman in front of her house is claiming he was forced to commit the crime at gunpoint.

Pacific Daily News reported Tomas Toves Quichocho claims 22-year-old Jessilyn Babauta pointed a gun at the back of his head and threatened to shoot if he didn’t commit the robbery. Quichocho is accused of cutting a woman’s hand and her purse strap during the robbery.

Prosecutors said Babauta drove Quichocho to the victim’s home and dropped him off to steal her purse. Authorities say in court documents he asked for part of the loot but Babauta refused.

Police said the pair are also suspected of robbing a Norwegian visitor in the popular tourist area of Tumon.

Police identify man in Wailua traffic fatality

HONOLULU — Kauai police have released the name of a man who died after he was trapped in a vehicle that went off the road, struck a tree and fell into an embankment in Wailua.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported 58-year-old Richard Dale Johnson of Kapaa died after the crash Sunday morning.

Police said a motorcyclist driving by heard Johnson’s cries for help. According to authorities, the motorcyclist checked and found Johnson, who told him he had been stuck in his vehicle for several hours.

Police said the motorcyclist called 911 after he found a place with a cellphone signal. According to authorities, Johnson didn’t respond when the motorcyclist returned and called out to him.

Police said firefighters arrived, rappelled down the embankment and found Johnson had died.

By local and wire sources

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