By Joel Phelps
The owner of a staple Caddo Valley eatery was killed Thursday evening in a one-vehicle rollover accident.
Ronald Joe “Ronnie” O’Keefe, 72, died at about 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 2, on Small Dike Road in Hot Spring County.
According to a fatal crash summary filed by the Arkansas State Police, O’Keefe was traveling northbound in a 2021 Toyota and crossed the southbound lane, then re-entered the roadway and lost control of the vehicle.
The vehicle “rolled several times” before coming to a final rest in the southbound lane, ejecting O’Keefe from the vehicle in the process.
O’Keefe was pronounced dead at the scene by Hot Spring County Coroner Jason Chenault. Weather and road conditions were clear and dry, respectively, according to Trooper Don Moreland. O’Keefe’s body was transported to the Hot Spring County Coroner’s Office.
O’Keefe’s Fish Net restaurant, located at the junction of Highway 7 and 283, is a popular eatery. The restaurant was under O’Keefe’s ownership for more than 35 years.
He was profiled in the 2021 Arkadelphia Life magazine and relocation guide.
Longtime friend Vickie Egleston, who co-owns Iron Mountain Marina with her husband David, called O’Keefe a “wonderful businessman” who was devoted to his community.
The Eglestons became friends with the O’Keefes when Fish Net opened, and their children grew up together, Vickie said.
“He put his heart into everything he did,” she said. “He was a friend, someone that would help anybody anyway he could.” O’Keefe was a supporter of all activities associated with DeGray Lake, from Keep DeGray Lake Beautiful to the annual Fourth of July Fireworks show.
Vickie likened O’Keefe’s death to losing a relative. “You become friends with someone, and friends become family,” she said.