East Hawaii News

9-Year-Old Dies in Crash on Mauna Kea Access Road

January 2, 2022, 11:06 AM HST
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Hawai‘i Island police are investigating a single-vehicle traffic collision in which a 9-year-old girl died and seven other people were injured.

The crash happened at 3:28 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 1, on Mauna Kea Access Road below the visitors center.

The 9-year-old girl, who was in the back seat of the truck’s cab, was transported to HMC, were she was pronounced dead at 5:03 p.m. An autopsy has been ordered to determine the exact cause of death.

Investigators determined that a 2018 Toyota Tacoma traveling west on Mauna Kea Access Road appears to have lost control when the brakes did not respond. The Tacoma then crossed the roadway in a right curve and went off the left shoulder, about 100 yards, and fell into a ravine.

At the time of the collision, the roadway was wet and it was raining.

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There were five occupants in the truck and an additional three in the truck’s bed. All of the vehicle’s occupants sustained injuries and were transported to Hilo Medical Center for treatment and further evaluation.

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The operator of the pickup truck, a 40-year-old female, and a 33-year-old male occupant, were airlifted to Queens Medical Center on O‘ahu. A 3-year-old boy was airlifted to Kapiolani Medical Center on O‘ahu in critical condition.

Police think speed, brake failure and not wearing seatbelts appear to be major factors in the crash. Further investigation will be conducted relative to any additional contributing factors.

Investigators were on scene throughout the night and remained at the scene as of Sunday morning investigating.

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Weather made evacuating the victims impossible with the county helicopter, according to a Hawai’i Fire Department press release. The accident happened at about the 8,000-foot level. Five ambulances were used to transport the patients to HMC.

This is the first fatal traffic collision of 2022 compared to zero fatal collisions during the same time period last year.

The East Hawaii Traffic Enforcement Unit initiated a negligent homicide investigation, which is pending.

Police ask anyone who might have witnessed the collision or who has information to contact Officer Jared Cabatu at 808-961-2339 or via email [email protected]. Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers at 808-961-8300.

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