Hit-and-run moped fatality suspect is in police custody

The Maui News

A 35-year-old Kahului man is in custody after allegedly killing a man operating a moped and seriously injuring the victim’s female passenger in a hit-and-run crash early Saturday morning on Puunene Avenue in Kahului.

Maui police identified the victim as Joey L. Ruiz, 36, of Kahului.

The incident occurred around 4:30 a.m., when Ruiz and the woman were driving northbound on Puunene Avenue near its intersection with the Airport Access Road, Maui Police Department spokesman Lt. Gregg Okamoto said. The pair were hit from behind by a silver 2006 Toyota sedan, and the woman was ejected from the moped.

The Toyota sedan continued to push the moped and its driver along Puunene Avenue before the moped came to rest north of Puukani Street, Okamoto said. Ruiz died at the scene while the woman was taken to Maui Memorial Medical Center with serious injuries. Her identity was not released.

The driver of the Toyota fled the scene before police arrived but officers tracked down the vehicle, which was parked unattended in front of a nearby residence in Kahului, Okamoto said. A follow-up investigation tracked down the suspected driver, who was arrested around 3 p.m. Saturday.

The suspect is being held at Wailuku Police Station for leaving the scene of a fatal crash, but has not been charged. Two other Kahului men also were arrested on similar offenses, but have been released pending investigation.

The roadway was closed for about nine hours while police investigated the scene.

The involvement of speed, drugs and alcohol was pending the conclusion of an investigation.

The crash marked Maui County’s fourth traffic fatality of 2018, compared with three by the same date last year.