Driver charged following deadly crash in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

A Pahoa man has been charged in federal court following a deadly crash that occurred within the boundaries of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

The single-vehicle crash occurred at around 9 p.m. on Sunday, May 28, off Highway 11 near the 33-mile marker.

Park officials say a white Toyota Tacoma truck was traveling in the Ka‘ū-bound lane when it rolled over. All three of the truck’s occupants were thrown from the vehicle.

A male passenger was found pinned beneath the truck and pronounced dead at the scene. He was identified as John Ashley Becker, 48, of Texas.

The driver, Kenneth J. Ewing, 43, was placed under arrest for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol. He was transported by ambulance to Hilo Medical Center for further evaluation, and escorted by National Park law enforcement personnel.

Ewing was subsequently charged with negligent homicide in the first degree. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in federal prison, and a fine up to $250,000.

The third occupant, a 53-year-old man, was also transported to Hilo Medical Center for treatment.

The road was closed for several hours as authorities investigated and cleared the scene.

This is the second fatal traffic accident in the park this year.

Anyone with information regarding this incident is encouraged to call park dispatch at (808) 985-6170.

The case is being investigated by the National Park Service, with technical assistance provided by the Hawaii Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Sara Ayabe.

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