“Wanna get away?” This simple tagline adorns many commercials for the Southwest Airlines company; yet it paints a vivid picture of the reality of many people’s lives, especially during the harsh, winter months. Vacationing, simply put, is often the ideal solution to the myriad of problems that plague the average Northerner during this time of the year. Sick and tired of shoveling, infuriated by the sluggish commute, people make the decision to leave it all behind for a little while. One of the most popular “hot spots” to get away to is the U.S. island state of Hawaii.
Hawaii is a popular destination for obvious reasons. Its white sands and hot, tropical landscapes make it an ideal location for someone looking to relieve stress and relax. But many people forget that Hawaii is still home to a significant population. There are cities on the islands that bustle, just like any other U.S. city. Unfortunately, with that distinct urban quality comes the risk of frequent traffic accidents between cars, trucks, motorcycles and bikes.
On Sunday, March 1, 2015, a 63-year-old Michigan man was killed while riding his bicycle on Waikoloa Road in South Kohala, Hawaii. According to Hawaii News Now, Mr. Jeffrey Surnow of West Bloomfield, Michigan was riding his bike at 6:25 am near mile marker 11. He was in an area where there was no shoulder on the side of the road. The sun was coming up from behind him. At that time, disaster struck. 30-year-old Jody Buddemeyer, a police officer in the town, was beginning his morning shift and did not see the man on his bicycle. His police cruiser collided with the back of the bike and sent Mr. Surnow flying through the air. When paramedics arrived at the scene of the bike accident, they found that Mr. Surnow had already died of his significant injuries.
Officer Buddemeyer was originally arrested and charged with negligent homicide, but was later released pending further investigation into the cause of the deadly accident. According to many avid cyclists in the area, the curve where Mr. Surnow was hit is notorious for its hazards. The early morning sunrise, combined with the lack of a shoulder on the road, is thought to have contributed to the accident.