Hawaii County to pay $15.1M to settle police-involved crash

KAILUA-KONA (AP) — Hawaii County has agreed to pay a $15.1 million settlement to the family of a Michigan man hit and killed by a police patrol car, officials said.

Jeffrey Surnow, 63, of West Bloomfield, Michigan, was riding a bicycle during his Big Island visit when he was struck and killed March 2015 by Jody Buddemeyer.


Buddemeyer, now 34, was working on his second consecutive eight-hour shift, officials said.

“In this case, what that policy led to is the officer being awake for more than 26 hours at the time of the accident. All the evidence indicates that he fell asleep,” family attorney Thomas Otake said.

The Hawaii County Police Department required officers to work back-to-back shifts, but have since dropped its double-shift policy.

“He knew he was fatigued and yet he didn’t take the responsible step to pull over and rest. He had previously complained about this double-back shift policy,” attorneys said.

Buddemeyer was convicted last year of misdemeanor negligent homicide and sentenced to one year of probation, officials said. He no longer works for police department, and is appealing.

Surnow was a real estate executive and the company he founded manages hundreds of millions of dollars of properties, mostly in Michigan, the news station reported.

His potential earnings would have exceeded the settlement amount, family attorneys said.


Surnow was also a supporter of Michigan’s Make-A-Wish Foundation and for providing financial assistance to those who were affected by the 2015 Nepal earthquake.

Most of the settlement proceeds are expected to go to a charitable foundation setup by the Surnow family, officials said.

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