Man Dies in West Hawai`i Boating Collision

Hawai`i Police Department detectives are investigating an incident involving a boat that ran aground which resulted in one death.

On Saturday evening, at about 8 p.m., the Hawaiʻi County Fire Department received an emergency call regarding a boat that had collided into a cliff along the shoreline fronting the Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport.

The information provided indicated there were two occupants aboard the vessel, one of whom was shaken but responsive, the other was not.

Hawai`i County Fire Department personnel responded to the scene and located an unresponsive male in the ocean waters fronting the airport. Lifesaving measures were performed by medic personnel, however, he was not able to be revived.

The man was taken to the Kona Community Hospital where he was pronounced dead. The decedent has been positively identified as 29-year-old Benjamin Charles Keely of Hawaiian Acres.

The second occupant of the vessel has been identified as 48-year-old Gary Witt of Hawaiian Ocean View Estates. He suffered non-life threatening injuries and is currently receiving medical treatment at the Kona Community Hospital where he is listed in stable condition.

An autopsy to determine Keely’s cause of death has been scheduled for Wednesday.

Detectives with the Area II Criminal Investigation Section, working in collaboration with 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, via email at, or at (808) 326-4646 ext. 224.