Hawai‘i Island police ID California woman killed in car crash along Hāmākua Coast

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Hawai‘i Island police identified a woman who died following a two-vehicle crash in Honomū on Māmalahoa Highway on Feb. 26 as Marcella Tellez, 48, of California.

Responding to the 6:07 p.m. call, police learned that a 2019 Ford pickup truck traveling north toward Hāmākua on Māmalahoa Highway, near mile marker 13, 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 Ford pickup truck, a 35-year-old man from Pāpa‘aloa, was initially unresponsive at the scene. He was transported to the Hilo Medical Center where he was listed in stable condition, however, due to the severity of his injuries was flown to Queen’s Medical Center on O‘ahu where he remains in stable condition.

The 22-year-old male operator of the Kia sedan suffered life-threatening injuries and was transported to Hilo Medical Center before being flown to Queen’s Medical Center where he remains in critical, but stable condition.


Tellez, who was a front-seat passenger of the Kia sedan, was unresponsive at the scene and trapped within the vehicle when it caught on fire. After the Hawai‘i Fire Department extinguished the flames, she was taken to Hilo Medical Center where she was pronounced dead at 11:09 p.m.

The occupants of the 2023 Kia sedan were related and visiting from California.

Hawai‘i Police Department’s East Hawai‘i Traffic Enforcement Unit responded to the scene and launched a negligent homicide investigation, which is currently ongoing.


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

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