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Bike rider was fatally struck by police officer’s vehicle Sunday (March 1)


A Michigan man died early Sunday (March 1) from a vehicle-bicycle crash in South Kohala.

He has been identified as 63-year-old Jeffrey C. Surnow of West Bloomfield, Michigan.

Police have determined that Surnow was riding a bicycle east on Waikoloa Road near the 11-mile marker when he was hit by a vehicle driven in the same direction by an on-duty police officer assigned to the South Kohala District. The officer who struck Surnow reported the crash around 6:25 a.m. Sunday.

Surnow was taken to North Kohala Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 10:25 a.m.

Traffic Enforcement Unit officers initiated a negligent homicide investigation and arrested the officer, 30-year-old Jody Buddemeyer, on suspicion of negligent homicide. He was later released pending further investigation.

The Office of Professional Standards will conduct an administrative investigation as is standard practice in any officer-involved fatality. The officer was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

Police ask anyone who witnessed the crash to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311 or Officer Christopher Kapua-Allison at 326-4646, extension 229.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the island wide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential

32 Responses to “Bike rider was fatally struck by police officer’s vehicle Sunday (March 1)”

  1. Gary says:

    Initially this was reported as “victim of a hit-and-run crash with a vehicle according to the fire dispatch report”. But the driver called it in? Hmmm…

    • If this is Gary Moore from Croswell, I see you are living the good life. My wife were there 13 years ago. We maybe going back this year or next. To bad about Jeff. Now that I am 67, 63 is young. r.laretz@ We live in Fl. Now.

  2. Jeff says:

    How many more cyclists need to die on Waikoloa road before a legitimate shoulder is added?

  3. matty keith says:

    When are they gonna ban the cyclists on Waikoloa Road where there are sometimes absolutely no shoulder on the rode for them to ride, both east and west. They have no place on that road until a shoulder like the bottom road is added, simple, what about those trucks that come barrelling down the road! Very dangerous for cyclist, they should put a stop on the rental companies that encourage the bikers to use this road! Shame on the county for not putting up cautionary signs!

    • Rich Bell says:


      Roads are for people, not cars. Some people drive cars, but some people ride bikes. Some people ride mopeds and some people drive police cars. All of these people are road users who have equal rights to our county roads.

      I agree with you that this road is very dangerous, but limiting access to a pubic facility to only a certain type of user is discriminatory and illegal. And to suggest that a warning sign would have prevented this fatality is naive. The cyclist was not riding a rental bike, but was an experienced cyclist here to enjoy himself and explore our island. Why limit that type of person? Shouldn’t we show Aloha and be courteous?

      I also agree with you that a shoulder should be paved the entire 12 miles of Waikoloa Village road to the state mandated 4ft minimum width. The County is aware of the need and working to develop funding for this project. I don’t think anyone deserves to be shamed. The shoulder is not just for cyclists, it is for vehicle turnout and breakdown, cellphone use, law-enforcement, etc. This is not a bicycle safety issue, Matty, it is a road safety issue.

      It is our collective responsibility to protect each other by driving safely and respecting all road users. Please slow down when approaching slow moving traffic from behind (like a school bus, moped, tractor, or cyclist) and pass only when safe, allowing for a safe passing distance.

      I ride and/or drive Waikoloa Village Road every day. Please help keep me safe and I will do the same for you.


      • T. Morris says:

        I have not seen the road but I agree with Mr. Bell’s comments. Jeff Surnow was an avid and competetive cyclist and will be missed by a lot of people. T. Morris, Farmington Hills, Michigan.

      • Chris says:

        Rich, actually roads are for cars, trucks, buses,motorcycles, ect.. Thats why you have speed limits like 55mph. Have you ever seen a pedestrian approach 50mph? Neither have I. Where does the county, or our state get much of the revenue for highway maintenance? Oh, thats right, vehicle registration fee’s, and taxes on each gallon of gasoline to go into the vehicles mentioned above. How’s about the county and state create a higher and yearly bicycle registration fee in order to pay for your widened roads with shoulders appropriate for cycling. Meanwhile, cyclists please stay out of the road when I’m on my way to work, I wouldn’t want your exercise to make me late.

        • BobG says:

          What an AH, Chris!

          • Chris says:

            So what if you’re driving to work one morning then, and you have to slam on the breaks, because I’m in the middle of the road doing jumping jacks, and push ups, and burpees? The road is for people right? And an appropriate place for me to exercise, correct? Well I like to exercise in the road too. But you’d probably think I wasn’t very smart in that case because of the high risk of death, and you’d probably think I was an “AH” for being in the way. Well explain to me what the difference is please?

        • Rich Bell says:

          What I meant by saying that roads are for people is that citizens possess rights, the vehicles they operate are inanimate objects and cannot be granted rights. You have the same legal rights no matter what vehicle you operate. According to HRS 291c-142, a bicycle is considered a vehicle, with the same rights to the road as any other.

          You bring up a good point regarding the fuel tax and registration fees, but it is weak because most cyclists also own and operate motor vehicles. I have 2 cars and 2 motorcycles, so I pay my share. Furthermore, the fuel surcharge only pays a small portion of the cost to build and maintain our roads, most of the money comes from the Federal DOT and the State General fund.

          I’m not saying that cyclists deserve any special treatment, we don’t need special lanes or roads. We just ask that all road users respect the law: when approaching slow moving traffic from behind, slow down, then pass when it is safe to do so. This is how you’d treat a military convoy, or moped, or farm tractor, or stray dog so why is it so hard to give a cyclist (who may be headed to work just like you are) similar consideration?

    • Charles Nighbor says:

      If no shoulder was the Criterium used for banning cyclists better than 70% of the worlds road would be eliminated. It is up to the driver to decide if they can pass safety before attempting to pass. Here in California we have the three foot safe pass law to avoid passing in a non safe manner
      Charles Nighbor, architect CA

  4. Ralph Kinsley says:

    Jeff was my very best lifelong friend from childhood. We played together in a band, were roommates in college, celebrated our marriages, the birth of our children, and their marriages and graduations. When we both lost our parents we were there for each other. His loss will be mourned by many. I am too distraught to continue. thanks for the story. Ralph

    • karen lederman says:

      Jeff’s loss will be felt hugely be the many who loved and admired him. A loving, giving, caring, larger than life man. My heart goes out to all his loved ones. May his family find strength in all the support and love at this horrific time. Sending all my love and support….

  5. David Ian Katzman says:

    I’ve known Jeff for many years. An active pilot who, like me, loved flying, we would spend time talking about airplanes and our flying experiences. We flew together. Jeff was a terrific guy who loved life and loved people, loved to laugh and was empathetic and so much more. I will miss him. Please fix your road so nobody else is senselessly injured.

  6. Mike Samyn says:

    Well said Rich Bell. Traffic calming is the way to go and protecting the rights for all to use public roads.

    Mike Samyn
    San Diego CA

  7. Dicky Wald says:

    This is too unbelievable to imagine. Our families grew up together as well. This is a tragic loss.

  8. May Jeff’s family find comfort from family and friends and also from our Lord. He was so young and many more years ahead. I hope something is done for others who enjoy the out doors. Bob, John, and Rose Laretz.

  9. Charles Young says:

    I do not know Mr.Surnow and my condolences go out to his loved ones. I live in Waikoloa Village and can tell you that the Waikoloa rd is no place for bicyclists nor are many of the other rural roads on Hawaii Island, there are no soft shoulders. If one choses to visit or live on Hawaii Island then one must accept the reality that Hawaii Island is larger than all the other islands combined but supports only about 1/10th of the population. We have large stretches of unpopulated roads that attract the back-roads bicycle enthusiast. Along with that attraction comes risk for the cyclists and risk for all who travel the road. The speed limits are up to 55 mph. There are sharp and frequently blind curves everywhere. It’s simple for cyclists to blame the county for these conditions but I don’t see our cyclists stepping forward to pay for the upgrades. A simpler solution would be to bar cycling on non conforming roads. If safety is truly your aim. There are lots of other places to cycle.
    Finally to Mr. Rich Bell, you will not find your remedies in Aloha. Please do not look to the native culture for your answers.
    To the family of Mr. Surnow. “ha’alele I ka la mea mahana” he “has left the warmth of the sun”.

    • NoelM says:

      The speed limit of 55mph on Waikoloa Rd is too high for such a poorly maintained curvy road. I would guess there are many accidents on this “road”, which is really more like a highway. Consider H1, the speed limit is 55 and that’s major artery.

      As you are well aware, drivers don’t obey “speed limits” they tend to go faster.

      So, yes I agree it’s a bad road for anyone, especially cyclists, but that doesn’t make it right to mow people down because they are “in the way”.

      Perhaps what needs to happen is the speed limit reduced to 35mph and signs put up to slow at the turns. But of course that will never happen. The shoulders should be paved, as it is very clear the amount of traffic density is increasing all over Hawaii. Blame it on whatever, but that is the reality.

      I also don’t think it’s too much to ask to “Drive with Aloha”. It’s care and respect for others, which I think is part of the framework of the Hawaiian way.

      • Charles Young says:

        Can someone please explain for my benefit what “drive with Aloha” means. It’s a slogan and not an action. And shouldn’t “Care and respect” be the framework of every culture’s “way” not just Hawaiian. These have nothing to do with the accident. If this accident had occurred in South Dakota would the answer lie in the “Lakota way” to avoid future occurrences.

        • Rich Bell says:

          Just for you Charles: In 1797 Kamehameha I decreed the Kanawai Mamalahoe, or Law of the Splintered Paddle, which is now part of our state constitution. This law loosely translated states that everyone has a right to safety on our roads. By saying “Drive with Aloha” we mean, as cyclists and drivers, that everyone has equal rights to travel safely through our islands and simply to watch out for each other.


  10. Mary Ann Yono says:

    I used to wait on Jeff many years ago at Kosins Clothes. The nicest guy you will ever meet. Just saw Jeff a few months ago and we reminisced about the old days. Jeff you will be missed a life taken to short! God Bless his wife Elaine and the kids.

  11. Erinn Steingold says:

    I have know Jeff and his family my entire life.
    His father was like a father to me and he was like a brother since I was born
    the world lost an amazing man way to young
    he will be so missed every day my heart goes to hie entire family

    as we were just together last week
    sending lots of love

  12. Chris says:

    Thank you Charles Young for being a voice of reason. It’s not as if these cyclists are commuting to work. They’re exercising. They’re riding around in a big circle and then driving to work. Why cant you choose roads which are safer on which to exercise, and if you’re willing to put yourself and others in danger for the sake of exercising how you want to, then I hope you have made peace with your maker. Sorry if I offend, but I find most cyclist to be very rude, especially along roads like akoni pule where you have a shoulder, but cyclist will choose to ride in the road so they can talk to there buddies. I feel if a cyclist is in the road then they must obey the rules like the minimum speed limit. Rant over

    • BobG says:

      I could just as easily argue that if the road is not safe for cars and bikes, then cars need to be banned. What makes you think your getting to work is more important than my exercise?

      • Chris says:

        Um, as I explained above, the road is MADE for cars. The aren’t made for a place for people to exercise. It’s pretty simple

    • John Cozad says:

      The truth is, roads are for getting places and bicycles were on them prior to cars even being made. If someone was riding a horse on the road, I doubt that they would get the abuse that cyclist do. It’s a matter of common courtesy and people driving speeds appropriate for conditions. Speed limit is max unless a min speed posted which normally only highways or expressways. There are too many distracted drivers that ride in their cars not actively engaged in the driving task. Everyone needs to pay attention to what’s going on, so there aren’t more unnecessary and tragic loses like this.

      • Chris says:

        Uh huh, and are most of these cyclist your talking about going places, or are they just riding around in a circle for exercise, then jumping in their SUV’s to go places?

  13. Craig Lee Williams says:

    Our heart goes out to Jeff’s family. We were both neighbors, and friends. Jeff was the type of man that always had a smile on his face and loved life. Jeff was special….. He was fair and honorable. …..Jeff did what he said – his word ment something. He taught his family not only good values, he taught them the value of an honest day’s hard work. Jeff was the person you always wanted to be around – laughing – happy – loving each minute of each day. Jeff, you made a difference in our lives – we love and miss you …..xoxo

  14. todd says:

    Chris, Jeff was hit and killed by a on-duty policeman driving a car, he’s dead.

    Where is your sense of decency?

    It’s people like you that make Anyone on the road concerned, to say the least.

  15. I knew Jeff from the mountain bike race scene especially Iceman in northern Michigan We were the same age group. Strong rider. Very skilled bike handler. Good sport. He will be missed. The officer should never have hit him regardless of the “sun”. If you can’t see, stop driving. Cyclists have rights in Michigan and as well in all states. I visit Hawaii often to visit my son and ride there usually without incident. I have friends who are retired police officers in Hawaii. We agree that given the Vulnerable Person law enacted in Hawaii in 2012 the driver/officer will certainly looking to be prosecuted. For Michigan biking laws which are very similar to Hawaii biking laws see Jeff did NOTHING wrong. He will be missed.

  16. Rose M Joyce says:

    The Joyce family sends condolences to the Family of Jeff Surnow. We are from his past as a young man living the good life in Lexington, Michigan. Jeff hung around with Bob (Boge) Joyce. We lived on Laurel Rd. Remember that great purple ski boat. Very sad news of his life ending way to soon.


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