Kona police have opened a manslaughter investigation in connection with the death in August of an elderly man in a Kailua-Kona care home.
On Aug. 13, Kona patrol officers responded to a report of an unresponsive 82-year-old resident at a care home on Ha‘o Kuni Street. The man, identified as Oscar Ramos, was taken by ambulance to Kona Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 3:58 p.m. that afternoon.
Police originally initiated a coroner’s inquest case in Ramos’ death, and an autopsy conducted on Aug. 15 determined that the cause of death was aspiration of food.
“When food is aspirated, instead of going down the tube to the stomach, it actually is going down the airway into the lungs, and in this case, blocking the airway,” said Lt. Gerald Wike of the Kona Criminal Investigations Section.
After consulting with Adult Protective Services, detectives focused on the level of care provided and a determination that the Department of Human Services revoked the caregiver’s care home certification on Sept. 24 because of this incident.
Detectives conferred with county prosecutors on Nov. 1, police said. After that meeting, they initiated a manslaughter investigation. No charges have yet been filed, although the caregiver, whom Wike declined to identify, is being looked at as a person of interest.
“Detectives are investigating and once we’ve completed the investigation, we’ll route it to the prosecutors and let them review it,” he said.