A 43-year-old Hilo man found dead Saturday in his vehicle alongside Highway 11 in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is believed to have committed suicide.
A park ranger came across the body of Steven L. Elliott at 9:34 a.m. near mile-marker 35, which is within the park boundary.
A medical examiner concluded after an autopsy Tuesday that the cause of death was asphyxia due to hanging, said park spokeswoman Jessica Ferracane.
Elliott was found in his white 2002 Ford pickup, parked on the shoulder facing the Ka‘u direction about six miles west of the park entrance.
Ferracane said the medical examiner referred to the death as an apparent suicide but was unable to provide additional details on how that conclusion was reached.
“It’s an apparent suicide,” she said, when asked if homicide is being considered. She added that the investigation is ongoing.
The park is requesting that anyone who noticed anything suspicious with the truck from 10:21 p.m. Friday through 9:30 a.m. Saturday to contact park dispatch at 985-6170.
A woman who identified herself as a close friend of Elliott said he had health problems but declined to elaborate.
“He was not well,” said Laverne Keaulana-lui, who rented a room to him in her home in Keaukaha.
Keaulana-lui said he had left the home Friday evening but she didn’t know where he was going. She said he worked as a school bus driver and described him as a kind person.
“He was always there for me and other people,” Keaulana-lui said.
She said Elliott moved to the Big Island from California about seven years ago.
The park said his family had been notified.
Park staff announced his death Monday evening.