Head-on car crash in East Hawai‘i leaves California visitor dead

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Two men were critically injured and one woman is dead following a head-on collision in Honomū on Māmalahoa Highway, (Highway 19), early Monday evening.

At 6:07 p.m., Hawai‘i Island police received a call that a 2019 Ford pickup truck traveling north toward Hāmākua, was overtaking other vehicles when it struck a southbound 2023 Kia sedan, traveling toward Hilo, head-on. The collision caused major damage to both vehicles and the Kia caught on fire as a result of the collision.

The operator of the 2019 Ford pickup truck, a 35-year-old man from Pāpa‘aloa, was initially unresponsive at the scene. He was transported to Hilo Medical Center via ambulance where he was listed in stable condition, however, due to his injuries he will be flown to Queen’s Medical Center on O‘ahu for further treatment.

The operator of the 2023 Kia sedan, a 22-year-old man, suffered life-threatening injuries and was transported to Hilo Medical Center before being flown to Queen’s Medical Center for further treatment.


The front seat passenger of the Kia sedan, a 48-year-old woman, was unresponsive at the scene and trapped inside the vehicle when it caught on fire. The Hawai‘i Fire Department was eventually able to extinguish the fire and she was transported to Hilo Medical Center where she was pronounced dead at 11:09 p.m.

An autopsy has been requested to determine the exact cause of death. The occupants of the 2023 Kia sedan were determined to be related and visiting from California.

The woman’s identity is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.


The East Hawai‘i Traffic Enforcement Unit responded to the scene and has launched a negligent homicide investigation, which is currently ongoing. At this time, police believe that both speed and impairment were primary factors in the crash.

Police ask that anyone who has information regarding this collision contact Officer Johnathan Rapoza at 808-961-2391 or via email at [email protected]. Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 808-961-8300.

This is the second fatal crash on Hawai‘i Island in less than 48 hours. The first was on Sunday afternoon in Hōnaunau where Jerome “Tabu” Chadallen Kahoalii Heath, 49, of Kailua-Kona, was hit head-on below the intersection of Ke Ala O Keawe Road and Hōnaunau Road, near the 1.5-mile marker.


This is the seventh traffic fatality of 2024 compared to five traffic fatalities this same time last year.

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