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Big Isle head-on collision kills California visitor

Hawaii island police said a head-on collision Monday between two vehicles on Mamalahoa Highway has resulted in one fatality, two hospitalizations and a negligent homicide investigation.

Police responded to the crash in Honomu after 6 p.m. Monday, and learned that a 2019 Ford pickup truck traveling north was overtaking other vehicles on the highway when it struck a 2023 Kia sedan heading in the opposite direction.

The Kia caught on fire at the scene, near the 13-mile marker of Mamalahoa Highway, also known as Highway 19.

Police said the front seat passenger of the Kia, a 48-year-old woman visiting from California, has died. She was unresponsive at the scene, and trapped inside the car when it caught on fire.

She was taken to Hilo Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead at 11:09 p.m.

The driver of the Ford pickup, a 35-year-old man from Papaaloa, was initially unresponsive at the scene, and taken to Hilo Medical Center with critical injuries.

The driver of the Kia sedan, a 22-year-old man also visiting from California and related to the passenger, sustained life-threatening injuries and was taken to Hilo Medical Center in critical condition.

Both patients will be flown to Queen’s Medical Center for further treatment.

An autopsy has been requested to determine the exact cause of the woman’s death. Her identity is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

Hawaii island police have launched a negligent homicide investigation, which is currently ongoing. At this time, police believe speed and impairment were primary factors in the crash.

Anyone with information regarding this collision is asked to contact Officer Johnathan Rapoza at 808-961-2391 or at Johnathan.Rapoza@hawaiicounty.gov. Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 808-961-8300.

Police said this is the seventh traffic fatality in Hawaii County this year compared to five at the same time last year.

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