HAWAII COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENT
TRAFFIC ENFORCEMENT UNIT
SERGEANT SAMUEL V. JELSMA
FEBRUARY 4, 2002
A 33-year-old male pedestrian died early Monday (February 4, 2002) after he was struck in the Hilo-bound lane of Hawaii Belt Road (Route 11) by a vehicle driven by a police officer.
The victim was identified as Kamekona Cummings, of a Hawaiian Acres subdivision address in Puna.
Responding to a 12:24 a.m. call, police officers determined that the victim was apparently attempting to cross the highway near the intersection with Kuauli Road in Puna when he was struck in the Hilo-bound lane by a 1995 Isuzu Rodeo MPVH operated by Ka’u Patrol Sergeant James Gusman, 33, of a Hilo address. Gusman reported the accident via his police radio.
The victim was taken to the Hilo Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 5:14 a.m. Gusman, the sole occupant of his vehicle, was not injured in the crash.
Cummings was wearing a camouflage long-sleeve shirt and black shorts and was not in a crosswalk when he was struck.
An investigation determined that shortly before the accident, acquaintances of Cummings had dropped him off in front of the Kurtistown Assembly of God Church after giving him a ride home from Hilo. They said Cummings had been drinking heavily at a concert earlier in the evening.
Gusman had finished his shift and was driving home to Hilo at the time of the accident. He is a six-year veteran of the Hawaii County Police Department who was recently assigned to the Ka’u District as a patrol sergeant.
Traffic Enforcement Unit officers are continuing an investigation into the crash and have ordered an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death. They have initiated a standard negligent homicide investigation into the accident, and because a police officer is involved, the police Internal Affairs Section is also conducting a separate investigation into the incident.
Police are asking that anyone who had spent time with Cummings earlier in the evening or who may have information to add to the investigation to call Officer Robert Hatton of the Traffic Enforcement Unit at 961-2332.
This was the second traffic-related fatality so far this year, compared to none at the same time last year.
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