Hawai‘i Island police have arrested 63-year-old Ronald Smith Fitzwater of Captain Cook for negligent homicide and failure to render aid after an 88-year-old Hōnaunau man died following a single-vehicle collision on Sunday, August 6, 2023, in Captain Cook.
Responding to a 12:32 p.m. call, police determined that the 88-year-old male, later identified as Theodor Lai Sr., was involved in a verbal argument in the parking lot of a business in the 82-6066 block of Māmalahoa Highway with a male driving a white pickup truck.
As the white pickup truck was driving away, Lai continued to yell at the male driver and was possibly holding on to the truck. At some point, Lai was possibly run over by the white pickup truck. The pickup left the parking lot in an unknown direction. Lai was transported to the Kona Community Hospital for initial treatment and was later pronounced dead at 1:43 p.m.
Fitzwater turned himself in this morning, Monday, August 7, 2023, at the Kealakehe Police Station where he was subsequently arrested. Investigators have also located a white 2004 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck that is possibly involved in this collision. Fitzwater remains in custody while the investigation is continuing.
Police are asking for the public to check their video surveillance between 12:25 p.m. and 12:35 p.m. for any vehicles matching the description. The area of the traffic collision will be near the intersection of Māmalahoa Highway and Kiloa Road (Kealakekua Ranch Center).
An autopsy has been ordered to determine the exact cause of death.
The Area II Traffic Enforcement Unit is continuing their negligent homicide investigation and ask for anyone who may have witnessed the collision to contact Officer Dayson Taniguchi at (808) 326-4646, ext. 229, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at (808) 961-8300.