HAWAII COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENT
TRAFFIC ENFORCEDMENT UNIT
SERGEANT SAMUEL V. JELSMA
AUGUST 23, 2002
A 43-year-old Hilo man died Friday (August 23, 2002) after a tractor-trailer he was driving ran onto the shoulder and overturned while traveling on Mamalahoa Highway (Route 19) in the Kawalii Gulch in North Hilo.
The victim was identified as Robert “Bobby” Kamelamela, of a Keaukaha address in Hilo.
Responding to an 11:36 a.m. call, police officers determined that the victim was operating a 1989 Peterbuilt tractor with a Matson container loaded on the trailer. He was driving toward Hilo on Mamalahoa nearing the bottom of the Kawalii Gulch at about the 28.5-mile marker when the truck ran off the right shoulder and struck a guardrail. The tractor-trailer continued down the guardrail and overturned, with the tractor coming to a final rest upside down on the guardrail and the trailer on its side off the roadway.
The victim was taken to the Hilo Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 3:12 p.m.
Traffic Enforcement Unit officers are continuing the investigation and have ordered an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.
The accident caused a partial shutdown of one lane of the highway for several hours.
Kamelamela’s death was the 18th traffic-related fatality so far this year on the Big Island, compared to 20 at the same time last year.
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