HAWAII COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENT
TRAFFIC ENFORCEMENT UNIT
SERGEANT SAMUEL V. JELSMA
SEPTEMBER 7, 2000
A female passenger died Thursday (September 7, 2000) after the car in which she was riding was struck by another car that ran a red light in Hilo.
The victim was identified as Ellison Sweezey, 31, of a Hilo address. She was pronounced dead at the Hilo Medical Center at 7:04 p.m.
The driver of the vehicle in which Sweezey was riding, identified as Paulyn Estioko, 33, of California, was treated at the hospital and released.
A second passenger in Estioko’s vehicle, Megan Salvado, 2, Sweezey’s daughter, was also treated and released from the hospital.
The driver of the other vehicle, identified as Richard Rosario, 20, was taken to the hospital, but refused treatment. Rosario, apparently a recent arrival from Oahu, was arrested for a variety of offenses and is being held in the Hilo police cellblock pending further investigation.
Investigating officers learned that a 1989 Nissan Sentra sedan driven by Rosario was speeding recklessly toward Keaau on the Keaau-Pahoa highway (Route 130) when it was spotted by a Puna patrol officer heading in the same direction.
The officer attempted to conduct a traffic stop, but Rosario refused to pull over. Rosario’s vehicle was then observed to pass several vehicles on the double solid line marking a no-passing zone and illegally pass vehicles on the right shoulder.
A second Puna patrol officer joined the chase and followed Rosario’s vehicle onto the Volcano Highway (Route 11) and then down the highway toward Hilo.
As they approached Hilo and traffic started to get heavier, the officers backed off the chase and assumed surveillance of the vehicle, but Rosario’s car kept speeding and continued passing vehicles on the right shoulder of the road.
At 3:18 p.m., as Rosario’s vehicle approached Makaala Street, the police investigation showed that the traffic light at the intersection was red for northbound traffic and that cars heading east were crossing the intersection on the green light. Northbound lanes were occupied by traffic, but Rosario maneuvered between stopped northbound vehicles and continued, colliding on the passenger’s side of a 1987 Honda Accord sedan driven by Estioko.
After the accident, Rosario was arrested for negligent homicide, negligent injury, passing in no-passing zone, resisting an order to stop, reckless driving, five lane use violations, two failure to stop violations, having no driver’s license and unauthorized control of a propelled motor vehicle.
Sweezey’s death was the 27th traffic fatality so far this year on the Big Island, compared to 22 at the same time last year.
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