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Woman, 69, killed in single-vehicle crash in Hilo on Wednesday identified

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A 69-year-old woman was killed in a single-vehicle crash after a Jeep allegedly driven by her 26-year-old grandson struck a rock and telephone pole in Hilo late Wednesday.

The Hawaii County Police Department said the woman, who was in the front passenger seat at the time of the crash, has been identified as Helen Napeahi of Hilo.

Police arrested the driver on suspicion of operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant, driving without a valid driver’s license and negligent homicide.

The crash occurred in the area of the Kalaninaole Avenue and Kolea Street intersection at about 11:51 p.m.

Police said a 2001 Jeep Grand Cherokee sport utility vehicle driven by the 26-year-old man was traveling east on Kalanianole Avenue when the driver negotiated a curve “too wide and fast” on the wet roadway.

The Jeep veered off the road and struck a rock and telephone pole, causing the SUV to overturn.

Police said Napeahi suffered internal injuries in the crash and was unresponsive at the scene. She was taken to Hilo Medical Center where she was pronounced dead at 2:28 a.m. today.

The driver was not injured.

Police believe drug use, speed and inattention on the part of the driver were factors in the crash.

This is the 13th traffic-related fatality on Hawaii island this year compared to 10 at the same time last year.

The police department’s East Hawaii Traffic Enforcement Unit has opened a negligent homicide investigation into Wednesday’s crash.

Anyone who may have witnessed the crash is asked to call officer Jared Cabatu at 808-961-2339 or email Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call CrimeStoppers at 961-8300.

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