Father remembers son killed in boating accident

  • Ben Keely with wife Christina, newborn son Everett Charles and daughter Grace. Keely died after being involved in a boating accident Saturday night when the vessel he was on ran aground along the shoreline fronting the Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole. (Courtesy of Christina Keely/Special to West Hawaii Today)

  • Ben Keely with his newborn son Everett Charles. Keely died after being involved in a boating accident Saturday night when the vessel he was on ran aground along the shoreline fronting the Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole. (Courtesy of Christina Keely/Special to West Hawaii Today)

KAILUA-KONA — The hardest thing Wayne Keely said he’s ever done in his life was writing his son’s obituary.

“I called him Benji boy — he didn’t like that as much as an adult,” Keely recalled of his 29-year-old son Ben who died last weekend in a boating crash. “He was special. He was just a good young man, a fine young man.”

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Benjamin Charles Keely, of Hawaiian Acres, was aboard a 20-foot boat Saturday evening when it hit a cliff along the shoreline fronting the Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole. He was aboard the vessel with Gary Witt, who suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

The crash is currently being investigated by the Hawaii Police Department. A cause of death has not yet been determined.

On Wednesday, the elder Keely shared stories about Ben and the special person he was. One that came to mind was his marriage to Christina.

“He married his high school sweetheart — pretty precious,” Keely said.

Keely said Ben had been working in Spokane, Washington, when Christina had gone to visit him in May 2008.

“They got to talking and they wanted to get married,” Keely said.

Being a pastor, Ben called his father and asked him to fly out to the northwestern state to marry them. Keely recalled explaining to his son that his mother and family in Oklahoma would be furious if he did that.

So, Keely bought the couple tickets to fly home to marry in Claremore, Oklahoma.

“I married them here at the church, on a Wednesday,” Keely said as he fought back tears. “I still have a picture of them from that day that sits on my desk.”

Since Ben and Christina tied the knot May 14, 2008, they went on to start their life and family.

Ben got a job in Maui in 2011 with Elcco Electric Inc. The couple bought a home on Hawaii Island when Ben started a job at American Electric in 2013. They have been on island since.

In 2014, the couple adopted a 3-year-old girl named Grace. This past fall, Christina gave birth to a baby boy, whom they named Everett Charles.

“They were building their dream here,” Keely said.

The last time Keely saw his son was last month when he came to meet his grandson.

“I wouldn’t trade that time for anything,” he said.

The last time Keely had contact with Ben was the day he died when his son sent him a picture of a 200-pound tuna.

“I told him not to eat it all at once,” Keely said with a laugh.

Keely described his son as “outdoorsy.” He loved fishing and camping.

“Even from a child he loved little creatures. He loved animals, God’s creations. And that transferred over to people,” Keely said.

Keely said he’s certain Ben had flaws, however, out of his six sons Ben gave him the least amount of trouble.

“Being Christian and a preacher, I’ve had to deal with this with other people, but now I’m really struggling,” Keely said as he copes with Ben’s death.

With the loss of her husband, Keely said, Christina will move back to Oklahoma. Being a stay-at-home mom, Christina doesn’t have an income to support her two children.

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In an effort to help Christina and her children, her friend Chastity Christine Mills, created a GoFundMe account to assist them financially as the mother figures out the next step for her family.

Visit www.gofundme.com/financial-support-for-wife-and-baby for more information on how to help Christina and her children.

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