Two Dead, Three Seriously Injured in Kalopa Crash
by Dave Smith
Police say both alcohol and speed were believed to be factors in a two-car collision early Monday night that killed two women.
Police said the victims were among eight passengers in a 2005 Ford van – all residents of Keaau — that went off Highway 19 near the 39-mile maker in Kalopa shortly before 4:30 p.m.
Police determined that Alfred Berdon III, 30, of Honokaa was driving a 1993 Nissan pickup truck eastbound when he overtook the van but collided with it as he attempted to return to the eastbound lane.
According to a Hawaii Fire Department spokesman, both vehicles ended up on their sides down a 15-foot embankment.
Two of the passengers, Josefina B. Visaya, 61, and Patrocinia R. Cadang, 54, were taken to Hilo Medical Center where they were pronounced dead at 9:30 p.m.
Three other passengers in the van, each of them 46-year-old women, were taken to hospitals in critical condition. One was transported to Hilo Medical Center, another to North Hawaii Community Hospital in Waimea and the third was medevaced to Queen’s Medical Center on Oahu. Their conditions were not immediately available.
Another van passenger, a 55-year-old man, was taken to the Waimea hospital in stable condition while the remaining passengers, a man and a woman, both 23, were taken to Hilo Medical Center where they were treated for minor injuries and released.
The 45-year-old driver of the van, also a Keaau resident, was treated at North Hawaii Community Hospital and released.
Berdon, the driver of the Nissan pickup, was arrested for driving a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant, driving while his license was suspended and without insurance, and on an outstanding bench warrant. He was also arrested for two counts of negligent homicide and four counts of negligent injury.
He was being held today at the Hilo cellblock pending further investigation.
Traffic was detoured into Honokaa town while police conducted their investigation.
Anyone with information on the crash is asked to call Officer Paul Kim at 333-9708.
The deaths brought the number of traffic-related fatalities in the area to three in the past four days.
A 17-year-old Paauilo boy died Friday from injuries sustained when he was struck by a semi tractor-trailer truck.
John DeLuz had just exited a Hele-On bus stopped on the mauka side of Highway 19 at Paauilo Makai Road when he ran across the roadway and into the path of the eastbound truck.
Paauilo is located about five miles east of Kalopa.
The fatalities brought the Big Island death toll on public roads this year to 29. There were 15 traffic fatalities on the island at this point in 2011.