Puna woman, 29, killed in head-on collision 01-10-03

HAWAII COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENT
TRAFFIC ENFORCEMENT UNIT
SERGEANT SAMUEL V. JELSMA
PHONE: 961-2332
JANUARY 10, 2002
H-34295
CORONER’S INQUEST

MEDIA RELEASE

A 29-year-old Puna woman died Friday morning (January 10, 2003) in a head-on collision that occurred on Volcano Highway (Route 11) near the 21-mile marker in Glennwood.

The victim was identified as Moana Balles, of a Volcano address in Puna.

Responding to a 6:05 a.m. call Friday, police determined that the victim was driving a 1979 Toyota flatbed truck heading south when her vehicle crossed the centerline and into the oncoming traffic lane. An oncoming 1987 Ford pickup truck driven by Mathias Cuison, 31, of Naalehu, tried to avoid the collision by moving to the right shoulder, but his truck was struck head-on by the victim’s vehicle.

The victim was taken to the Hilo Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead at 9 a.m. Cuison was also taken to the Hilo hospital, where he was confined in guarded condition.

Both drivers were alone in their vehicles. There were also skid marks from Cuison’s vehicle leading up to the impact area, but none from the victim’s truck. The victim appeared to have worn her seat belt, but Cuison did not have his fastened.

Traffic Enforcement Unit officers are continuing an investigation into the crash and have ordered an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.

Balles’ death was the first traffic-related fatality on the Big Island this year, compared to none at the same time last year.

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