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Drivers in Two Separate Fatal Traffic Incidents Identified

by Thunda

Hawai‘i Island police have released the names of two people who died in separate fatal traffic crashes last month. Both incidents occurred in the private subdivision of Hawaiian Paradise Park in Kea‘au.

On January 9, 2021, Richard Valdez, 55, of Granite Bay, California, died as a result of a single over-turned vehicle crash that occurred at the intersection of Maku‘u Drive and 2nd Avenue (21-002525). Officers determined that Valdez was traveling east (makai) on Maku‘u Drive in a 2020 Jeep Wrangler with a removable top at a high rate of speed when it crossed the center line at the 2nd Avenue intersection and struck a utility pole on the west bound shoulder. He was ejected from the Jeep as it flipped.

Then on  January 15, 2021, Ryan Starrett, 32, of Kea‘au died as a result of a two-vehicle collision that occurred at the intersection of Maku‘u Drive and 24th Avenue. Starrett was operating a 2013 Honda motorcycle traveling south on 24th Avenue and failed to stop at a stop sign posted at the Maku‘u Drive intersection, broadsiding a 1999 Nissan Frontier truck that was traveling mauka on Maku‘u Drive (21-004166).

Traffic investigators are awaiting toxicology results for both incidents to determine if alcohol and/or drugs were factors in the crashes.

Investigators with the East Hawaii Traffic Enforcement Unit are still seeking the public’s assistance in locating witnesses or anyone with information about either traffic crash. Anyone with information is encouraged to call the East Hawaii Traffic Unit at (808) 961-2339 or anonymous tipsters can call Crime Stoppers at (808) 961-8300.

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