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California Woman Dies in Head-on Crash in Honomū

by Thunda

Two men were critically injured and one woman died following a two-vehicle traffic collision in Honomū on Māmalahoa Highway, (Highway 19), early Monday evening, February 26, 2024.

Responding to the 6:07 p.m. call, police learned that a 2019 Ford pickup truck traveling north toward Hāmākua on Māmalahoa Highway, near the 13-mile marker, was overtaking other vehicles when it struck a south bound 2023 Kia sedan, traveling toward Hilo, head-on. The collision caused major damage to both vehicles and the Kia caught on fire as a result of the collision.

The operator of the 2019 Ford pickup truck, a 35-year-old man from Pāpa‘aloa, was initially unresponsive at the scene. He was transported to Hilo Medical Center via ambulance where he was listed in stable condition, however due to his injuries he will be flown to Queens Medical Center for further treatment.

The operator of the 2023 Kia sedan, a 22-year-old man, sustained life-threatening injuries and was transported to Hilo Medical Center prior to being flown to Queens Medical Center for further treatment.

The front seat passenger of the Kia sedan, a 48-year-old woman, was unresponsive at the scene and trapped within the vehicle when it caught on fire. The Hawai‘i Fire Department was eventually able to extinguish the fire and she was transported to Hilo Medical Center where she was pronounced dead at 11:09 p.m.

An autopsy has been requested to determine the exact cause of death. The occupants of the 2023 Kia sedan were determined to be related and visiting from California.

The identity of the deceased 48-year-old woman is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

The East Hawaii Traffic Enforcement Unit responded to the scene and has launched a negligent homicide investigation, which is currently ongoing. At this time, police believe that both speed and impairment were primary factors in the crash.

Police ask that anyone who has information regarding this collision to please contact Officer Johnathan Rapoza at (808) 961-2391 or via email at Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at (808) 961-8300.

This is the seventh traffic fatality of 2024 compared to five traffic fatalities this same time last year.

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