OCEAN VIEW, Hawaii -- Four large dogs have attacked and killed a man in his 70s in an early morning "unprovoked" attack in the middle of the road that police are calling "horrific."
The incident occurred at approximately 8:59 a.m. on Tuesday morning when Ka'u patrol officers on Hawaii's Big Island received a call and responded to an animal complaint in the 92-2000 block of Outrigger Drive in the Hawaiian Ocean View Estates subdivision, according to a statement released by the Hawaii Police Department.
While authorities are unsure how the attack began, officials were able to locate a witness who reported "hearing a commotion outside his residence," police said. When the witness went to check on the noises he was hearing outside his home, he said he "saw the victim being attacked in the roadway by four large dogs" before he was able to chase the dogs away and call police and paramedics to the scene.
When officers arrived, they discovered a man -- estimated to be in his 70's -- lying unconscious in the middle of the road.
"The victim, believed to be a male in his 70s, was treated by emergency medical personnel at the scene and while being transported to the Kona Community Hospital, he succumbed to his injuries," Hawaii Police Department said. "He was transported to the Ka' Hospital for the official pronouncement of death."
The dogs' owners were not home at the time of the attack, police said, but they have since been identified and contacted by police and investigators are now looking into claims that the dogs had previously been reported as stray animals.
"In the meantime, the owners have surrendered all four dogs and a litter of 10 puppies to the Hawai'i County Animal Control and Protection Agency," Hawaii Police Department officials said.
"There is currently no evidence that the victim provoked this horrific attack," Hawai'i Police Chief Ben Moszkowicz said in a statement following the attack. "This incident is a senseless tragedy that could have been avoided."
Police are investigating this incident as a Negligent Failure to Control a Dangerous Dog case and Hawaii law, which was most recently revised just last year, makes it a felony crime if someone fails to take reasonable measures to prevent an unprovoked dog attack resulting in serious bodily injury or death.
Investigators have classified the case as a Class B Felony, which means that, if the dog owners are convicted, they could face up to a $25,000 fine, ten years in prison, restitution and/or the humane destruction of the dogs involved, police said.
The victim's identity is being withheld until positive identification is made and the next of kin is contacted and an autopsy will be conducted to determine the exact cause of death, Hawaii Police Department said in their statement to the public.
Meanwhile, officials are asking anyone with information regarding this incident please contact Area II Criminal Investigation Section Detective Donovan Kohara at (808) 960-3118.
The investigation is ongoing.