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Woman killed in lava field crash identified

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Hawaii County police identified a 23-year-old woman killed when the car she was riding in ran off the road and hit a lava rock wall throwing her into a lava field.

Big Island police identified the victim as Jessica E. Uulopa, of Captain Cook.

Paramedics took Uulopa to Kona Community Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 12:25 a.m. Sunday. An autopsy has been ordered to determine cause of death.

Officers arrested the driver of the PT Cruiser, 21-year-old Matelita A. Taumoefolao of Kailua-Kona on suspicion of negligent homicide and operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant. She was released pending further investigation.

The accident occurred before 8 p.m. Saturday on Puuhonua Road in Captain Cook north of Highway 160 and the 3-mile marker.

Police said that Uulopa was the back-seat passenger in a 2009 Chrysler PT Cruiser that was traveling south on Puuhonua Road. The car ran off the west shoulder of the roadway, struck a lava rock wall and overturned, ejecting Uulopa into a lava field.

Police believe speed, inattention and alcohol were factors in this crash.

Police ask anyone who witnessed the crash to call Officer Kimo Keliipaakaua at 326-4646, extension 229. Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300.

This is the 12th traffic fatality this year on Hawaii island roads compared with seven at this time last year.

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