One killed, one injured in boat crash Saturday

KAILUA-KONA — A man is dead and another was taken to the hospital after a white 20-foot boat ran aground at OTEC Saturday night, according to officials Sunday.

Around 8 p.m. Saturday, the Hawaii County Fire Department received an emergency call regarding a boat that had run into a cliff along the shoreline fronting the Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport. Five units responded to the scene 1 mile north of Keahole Point, including a rescue boat and helicopter.


Fire personnel located an unresponsive male in the water and performed lifesaving measures, but were not able to revive him. He was taken to the Kona Community Hospital and pronounced dead. The decedent has been positively identified as 29-year-old Benjamin Charles Keely, of Hawaiian Acres.

The second occupant of the vessel was 48-year-old Gary Witt, of Hawaiian Ocean View Estates. He suffered injuries that were not life threatening, and is being treated at Kona Community Hospital, where he is listed in stable condition.

Police say Keely and Witt were aboard a fishing vessel when, for an unknown reason, the fishing vessel struck a cliff and Keely was thrown overboard. Witt remained within the vessel and located Keely, bringing him back to the shoreline, where lifesaving measures were attempted until waves took both men back into to the ocean.


Fire officials don’t know what caused the boat to run aground. An autopsy to determine Keely’s cause of death has been tentatively scheduled for Tuesday.

Detectives with the Area II Criminal Investigation Section, and the Department of Land and Natural Resources, are continuing this investigation and ask anyone with information or who may have witnessed this incident to contact Detective David Matsushima at, or 326-4646 ext. 224.

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