HAWAII COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENT
TRAFFIC ENFORCEMENT UNIT
SERGEANT SAMUEL V. JELSMA
APRIL 10, 2002
Two persons died Tuesday (April 9, 2002) in separate traffic accidents in Kona and Puna.
The victims were identified as Brian Underwood, 37, of a Kailua-Kona address, and Jay Okubo, 43, of a Hilo address.
In the Kona accident, police responded to an 8:39 p.m. call Monday after a 1992 Chevrolet van Underwood was driving ran off the shoulder of Ahikawa Street in the Kalaoa area.
Investigators determined that the van was heading west down a steep incline on Ahikawa Street when it ran off the right shoulder of the road, possibly blowing out a tire, then came back onto the road, crossed the centerline and ran off the left shoulder. The van then collided with two parked cars and uprooted several palm trees as it ran through the yards of two residences in the area. The van was knocked into the air and flipped, finally landing in the yard of a third residence.
Underwood was taken to the Kona Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 1:01 a.m.
Traffic Enforcement Unit officers are continuing an investigation into the accident and have ordered an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death. Alcohol is believed to have been a factor in the accident, which occurred on a very steep downgrade. Although the victim was wearing a seatbelt, he sustained head injuries.
In the Puna accident, police responded to a 3:36 a.m. call Tuesday. An investigation determined that the victim, Okubo, was killed after he was struck while standing in the middle of the Keaau-bound land of the Keaau-Pahoa Road (Route 130) near the two-mile marker.
Okubo had been driving a 1998 Toyota sedan on the rim of a tire that had apparently blown out when the rim disconnected from the car. The victim stopped his car, got out and retrieved the rim and put it into the trunk of his car. He was in the process of picking up the lug nuts used to secure the rim when he was struck by a 1993 Nissan pickup truck driven by Lawrence Shupe, 40, of a Hawaiian Paradise Park address.
Okubo was taken to the Hilo Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 6:41 a.m. The driver of the truck was not injured in the accident.
The accident caused a four-hour closure of the Keaau-Pahoa Road, and traffic had to be rerouted through subdivision roads. Police apologized for the closure, but said it was necessary to allow officers to document the accident scene properly because evidence would have been lost if traffic were allowed to pass through the scene.
TEU officers have initiated a standard negligent homicide case into the accident and have ordered an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.
The two deaths Tuesday were the 12th and 13th traffic fatalities on the Big Island so far this year, compared to six at the same time last year.
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