Big Island lawyer dies after car crashes into pole
HILO » Robert Ben Tsukazaki, a land-use attorney with an extensive history of assisting major developments to gain permit approvals, died yesterday in a one-car accident in Kona. He was 60.
The fatality was confirmed by his law partner Thomas Yeh and others.
"Ben will long be remembered first and foremost for his wonderful personality, sincere respect for others, and his ever-present sense of humor," Yeh said.
Former mayor Stephen Yamashiro said, "He was a very bright guy with a nice feel for the Big Island."
Police, who did not immediately release Tsukazaki's identity, said a traffic victim was heading toward Kailua-Kona on Mamalahoa Highway near Puuanahulu when he ran off the road and hit a utility pole at 8:53 a.m.
The driver was wearing his seat belt, but speed was believed to be a factor in the crash, they said. The man died at North Hawaii Community Hospital at 10:27 a.m.
Tsukazaki was originally from Honolulu but moved to the Big Island after obtaining his law degree from Hastings College of Law in San Francisco in 1976.
From 1979 to 1984 he served as a deputy corporation counsel for Hawaii County, then turned to private practice.
Tsukazaki's support for development placed him in opposition to those who wanted slower growth, but even his opponents respected him, Yeh said.
Yamashiro said Tsukazaki helped create a better Big Island.
"People forget that the requirements of the development or the developer made those areas open to the public. They were never open to the public before," he said.
"They're all very low key, and they generate a lot, a lot, a lot of tax revenue," he added.