Officer Recognized for Remarkable Rescue After Difficult-to-Find Car Accident
Exemplifying determination and diligence in locating the scene of a traffic collision in a remote area that resulted in the rescue of the elderly driver, Hawai‘i Police Department Officer Jenna Kosinski-Santos was honored with the Hāweo Award during a ceremony held at Hawai‘i County Council chambers in Kona on Tuesday, May 3.
The award was presented by the Council’s Parks and Recreation and Public Safety Committee, or PRPSC, which recognizes county police and fire department personnel who go above and beyond the call of duty. Hāweo, for which this award is named, means to glow or to be radiant. Kosinski-Santos was presented with a lei and a certificate signed by each councilmember at the ceremony.
On Sept. 20, 2021, Ka‘ū patrol officers responded to Highway 11, north of the Whittington Beach Park, after a medical alarm company reported to police dispatch that an individual had possibly been stabbed, the police department stated in a news release Tuesday on the award.
It was later determined that in actuality a single-vehicle traffic collision had occurred and a male individual was still within the vehicle. Extensive checks were conducted, however, officers were unable to locate the crash scene.
Continuing to make area checks, Ka‘ū patrol officer Kosinski-Santos was nearly one mile away from the reported collision location when she observed two small rocks on the roadway.
On a normal day, the news release stated, this observation would not stand out and quite frankly, could have been easily overlooked as there was no clear indication that anything out of the ordinary had occurred, much less an vehicle crash.
Acting on a hunch, Kosinski-Santos parked her vehicle and made a thorough visual check of the steep shoulder and embankment where she saw an overturned vehicle at the bottom of the embankment. Officers made their way down the embankment and discovered a 93-year-old man within the vehicle, suspended upside down.
The male driver had sustained numerous injuries, most notably a contusion on the man’s head that continued to swell after being extricated from the vehicle. The man was transported to the Hilo Medical Center in serious/critical condition where he received medical treatment and is expected to make a full recovery.
Investigators determined that the vehicle ran off the roadway, flipped over, and came to rest at the bottom of the embankment. From the highway, there was no indication that a car crash had occurred. The overturned vehicle was not visible from the roadway and there were no known witnesses to the incident.
Had Kosinski-Santos chose to overlook two small seemingly innocuous rocks, it is hard to gauge when the elderly injured driver would have been discovered and it’s quite probable that he would have succumbed to his injuries.
Kosinski-Santos’ decisive actions, spirit of service, and commitment to “go the extra mile” clearly demonstrates her commitment to the Hawai‘i Police Department’s core values of integrity, professionalism, compassion, teamwork, and community satisfaction, the release stated.