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Alleged driver in fatal Volcano Park crash had high alcohol level, feds say

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The National Park Service says the alleged driver in Sunday’s fatal one-vehicle crash at Volcanoes National Park had a blood alcohol concentration nearly four times the legal threshold for drunken driving.

Federal prosecutors have charged him with first-degree negligent homicide.

A criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court Tuesday identifies Kenneth J. Ewing of Pahoa as the driver of a pickup truck that rolled over on Highway 11 near mile marker 33 Sunday night. The park service says Ewing and his two passengers were thrown from the vehicle.

Ewing, 43, was in federal court in Honolulu Tuesday and remains in custody pending a bail hearing on Thursday.

A park ranger who arrived on the scene said the truck was resting on the driver’s side and had significant damage to the front and rear. One passenger, a 48-year-old man, was pinned under the vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene. Passersby had pulled the other passenger, a 53-year-old man, out from under the vehicle.

The ranger said there were beer bottles and two nearly-empty bottles of vodka strewn about the scene.

Ewing was transported to Hilo Medical Center, where his blood alcohol content was measured at 0.312 about 90 minutes after the crash. The legal threshold for drunk driving is 0.08 BAC.

The 53-year-old man was transported to the hospital in critical condition. His condition later improved to stable.

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