HAWAII COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENT
TRAFFIC ENFORCEMENT UNIT
SERGEANT SAMUEL V. JELSMA
0CTOBER 27, 2002
A 22-year-old man died early Sunday (October 27, 2002) following a one-car collision that occurred on the Hawaii Belt Road (Route 19) at the Honolii Bridge near the four-mile marker in the South Hilo District.
The victim was identified as Diego Pua Jr., of a Papaikou address in Hilo.
Responding to a 4:28 a.m. call, police determined that the victim was driving a 1991 Acura Integra sedan toward Hamakua with three passengers when he ran off the right shoulder of the road and collided with the end of a guardrail. The car then crossed the centerline and struck the left side of the concrete bridge railing, crossed back over and struck the right side of the concrete bridge railing. The vehicle came to rest in the middle of both lanes of traffic. Rescue personnel had to use the “Jaws of Life” to remove the four occupants of the car.
The victim was taken to the Hilo Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 7:03 a.m.
The three other occupants of the car — all from Papaikou and Pepeekeo — were also taken to the Hilo Medical Center, where they were confined in stable condition.
The passengers were identified as Jarret McAtee, 18, Brian Pippenger, 24, and Edwin Paiva Jr., 20. None of the occupants had been wearing a seat belt.
Investigators determined that alcohol and speed were contributing factors in the crash. The vehicle’s speedometer was locked at 75 miles per hour.
Traffic Enforcement Unit officers are continuing the investigation and have ordered an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death. The crash caused the closure of the Honolii Bridge for about four hours, and traffic was rerouted while police investigated the incident and Public Works Department personnel cleaned automotive fluids from the surface of the roadway.
Sunday’s death was the 21st traffic-related fatality on the Big Island so far, compared to 22 at the same time last year.
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