WAIKOLOA, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Big Island police officer was arrested in connection with a collision that killed a bicyclist in South Kohala Sunday morning.
According to Hawaii Police, 63-year-old Jeffrey Surnow of West Bloomfield, Mich., was riding a bicycle east on Waikoloa Road near the 11-mile marker when he was hit by a vehicle driven by the on-duty police officer.
According to investigators, the officer who struck Surnow reported the crash at around 6:25 a.m. Sunday.
Surnow was taken to the North Kohala Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 10:25 a.m.
Investigators arrested the officer, 30-year-old Jody Buddemeyer, on suspicion of negligent homicide. He was later released pending further investigation. Buddemeyer has been placed on administrative leave while the fatality is investigated by he department's Office of Professional Standards.
Acting Battalion Chief Capt. John Whitman says that area is very treacherous for bike riders, especially during sunrise.
"It's kinda dangerous for a bicyclist to be riding in that area, being the sun rising and such, hard to see them. And there's no shoulder for those bicyclists to be riding on. They basically have to ride on the road, which is a pretty dangerous area," said Capt. Whitman.
Rich Bell works at the bike shop in Waikoloa. He says it's a road the cycling community has been struggling to get the county to fix for a while.
"All the county roads are supposed to have at least a four foot shoulder, but this road doesn't conform to that regulation and we've told people in the highway division and people in the traffic division and all the way up to the mayor's office that this road is super dangerous and somebody's gonna get killed," Bell said.
Avid bike rider Kym Kiser says the news is devastating to the entire cycling community.
"It's a terrible situation when someone gets hit, much less passes. It's just a hit to all of us cyclists, whether we knew the person or not, because it feels like it's one of your own," she said.
According to an online database for cyclists, Surnow logged a 60-mile run in the Waimea area just a couple of days ago.
Surnow was the chief organizer of a bike festival in his town. A news release says he had hopes of making the city more "bike-friendly."