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Man Killed in North Hilo Crash; Weight Limit Placed on Nanue Bridge

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Hawai‘i Island police are investigating a single-vehicle fatal traffic collision that was reported at 9:37 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 5 on Highway 19 in Papa‘aloa, near the 18 mile marker.

An adult male believed to be the vehicle driver was located at the scene unresponsive. He was transported to Hilo Medical Center where he was pronounced dead at 2:02 p.m. An autopsy has been ordered to determine the exact cause of death. He will remain unidentified pending positive identification and notification of his next of kin.

Police investigators have determined that a 2020 Ford Edge SUV traveling north (Waimea-bound) on Highway 19 appears to have veered onto the right shoulder while approaching the bridge and proceeded off the cliff, striking the bridge’s support column before coming to a rest in the ravine below.

At the time of the collision the roadways did not appear to be wet, however, it had been overcast in the area, the police department stated in a news release.

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The Hawai‘i Fire Department is assisting in the investigation. Access to the vehicle and scene would not have been possible with the fire department’s help, police stated.

One lane was closed to traffic for a couple of hours while the investigation was underway.

Police believe that speed is a primary factor in this collision. Further investigation will be conducted relative to any additional contributing factors.

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The East Hawaii Traffic Enforcement Unit has initiated a coroner’s inquest investigation, which is pending. Police ask that anyone who may have witnessed the accident or who has information on it, to please contact Officer Blayne Matsui at 808-961-2339 or via email [email protected] Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at (808) 961-8300.

This is the seventh fatal traffic collision of 2022 compared to three fatal traffic collisions during this same time period last year.

The Hawaii Department of Transportation also announced that Nanue Bridge will be weight restricted to 12 tons following the crash.

In addition to the weight posting, the makai (northbound) lane over the bridge near mile marker 18 will be closed until a structural inspection can be completed. Traffic in both directions will be managed by flaggers.

HDOT is taking these actions out of an abundance of caution. The structural inspection will take place Sunday, Feb. 6. An update will be provided upon completion of the inspection.

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