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2 women returning from work when killed on Hawaii island road

    The van that ended up in a gulch Monday on Hawaii island after being forced off the road by a 30-year-old Honokaa man driving a pickup truck, according to police.

Sixty-one-year-old Josefina B. Visaya and eight fellow landscaping workers from Keaau on Hawaii island were heading home Monday after a hard day’s work when the van they were riding was struck by a speeding pickup truck, driven by an alleged drunken driver, near Honokaa.

She and another woman were killed and seven others were injured.

“It was her first job and last,” after moving to Hawaii island 20 years ago from Ilocos Norte in the Philippines, her son, Fred, said. “She loved to work. She’s a good mother. She loved the grandkids. She’s the best mom.”

The nine van occupants worked for Puna Certified Nursery based in Kurtistown in East Hawaii, but would perform landscaping and grounds maintenance at West Hawaii resorts.

The crash occurred at 4:24 p.m. on Mamalahoa Highway, two-tenths of a mile east of the 39-mile marker.

A Honokaa man is in police custody. Police arrested the driver of the Nissan pickup truck, Alfred Berdon III, of Honokaa, for investigation of two counts of negligent homicide, four counts of negligent injury, operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant, driving while license suspended or revoked and not having no fault insurance. He was also arrested for an outstanding bench warrant.

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