East Hawaii News

UPDATE: Rangers File Charges in National Park Crash

May 18, 2014, 9:10 AM HST
* Updated May 23, 12:05 PM
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***Updated 5:46 p.m. Monday, May 19.***

Rangers from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park today charged two men who were in a truck that crashed into a tree along Highway 11 Sunday morning.

Chief Ranger Talmadge Magno said the driver, 25-year-old Hiram Kawelu, was charged with driving under the influence of an intoxicant and without a license, and failure to maintain control of a vehicle.

The passenger, 22-year-old Cole Evans-Tanigawa, was charged with providing false information for allegedly giving authorities a phony name.

A calf in the truck that authorities believe may have been stolen still has not been located.

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Magno said there have been additional reports of it being seen around the Volcano Golf & Country Club. However, since that is outside the national park boundaries, the matter is now out of rangers’ jurisdiction.

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Both Kawelu and Evans-Tanigawa, who are residents of Hilo, made an appearance before a state judge today and were released on a signature bond promising to appear before a federal judge on Oct. 8.

However, the two were immediately arrested by Hawaii County police, Kawelu on suspicion of theft of a vehicle and Evans-Tanigawa on suspicion of being in possession of stolen property.

The two were being held tonight in the Hilo police cellblock.

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Authorities first learned of the crash through a 7:27 a.m. report from a passerby that a truck was on fire.

Magno said both occupants were wearing seat belts.

***Updated 11:27 a.m. Monday, May 19.***

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park rangers are anticipating filing charges today against two men who crashed a pickup truck into a tree in the park Sunday morning.

The men, who have not yet been named, were taken to Hilo Medical Center for treatment of injuries sustained in the crash.

The driver is facing a charge of allegedly driving under the influence of intoxicants, said Chief Park Ranger Talmadge Magno. The passenger faces a charge of allegedly giving false information and also allegedly attempting to escape from the hospital’s emergency room.

The pair crashed the Toyota pickup into an ohia tree near the intersection of Pi`i Mauna Drive and Highway 11.

A Toyota pickup carrying two local males smashed into an ohia tree along Highway 11 in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Sunday morning. Photo by Dave Smith.

A Toyota pickup carrying two local males smashed into an ohia tree along Highway 11 in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Sunday morning. Photo by Dave Smith.

Magno said because the accident occurred inside the park’s jurisdiction,  rangers are handling the legal aspects of the crash.

(Big Island Now previously incorrectly reported that the location of the crash was not in the national park; it was inside the park but near its boundary.)

He said Big Island police are investigating whether the truck was stolen and whether there were stolen items inside the pickup.

Police reported a rash of incidents in the early morning hours Sunday in Ka`u including three thefts and four vehicle break-ins. It was not immediately clear whether the incidents were related to the men in the truck.

Magno said a search is still on for a young cow that was allegedly in the truck at the time of the crash.

There have been several reports of the cow in the area of the golf course.

***Updated 6:43 p.m Sunday, May 18.***

Park rangers struggled to subdue a man before arresting him this morning at the scene of a one-vehicle accident outside Hawaii Volcanoes National park, just south of the intersection of Pi`i Mauna Drive and Highway 11.

Pi‘i Mauna Drive is the access road to the Volcano Golf & Country Club and a nearby subdivision.

When a Big Island Now reporter arrived on site at approximately 8:15 a.m., medics from Kilauea Military Camp were tending to a local male who had been strapped down to a stretcher, while national park rangers had pinned down another local male, who they took into custody.  Both men appeared to be in their twenties or thirties.

Park rangers, fire department staff, and Hawaii Police Department officers at the scene of a one vehicle accident outside the Hawaii  Volcanoes National Park Sunday morning.

Park rangers, fire department personnel and Big Island police at the scene of a one-vehicle accident in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Sunday morning.

According to first responders who declined to be named, a white Toyota pickup was traveling north on Highway 11 when it smashed into an ohia tree on the mauka side of the highway.

The first responders speculated that the men involved in the accident may have been connected to a theft that occurred further south.

Hawaii Police Department officers arrived at the scene a few minutes later.

Later, a park ranger told Big Island Now that a cow, which had possibly been stolen, was believed to have been in the truck at the time of the crash.

The ranger said he did not know the current whereabouts of the cow, which was the subject of a search. He said it was unknown whether the cow was injured.

The golf course staff said late Sunday morning that there had been a report of the cow off the 18th fairway.

This yea-on view of the truck shows the damage it did to the ohia tree. The truck's left front tire0s sitting amidst a broken branch. Photo by Dave Smith.

This head-on view of the truck shows the damage it did to the ohia tree. The truck’s left front tire is sitting amidst the debris. Photo by Dave Smith.

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