HAWAII COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENT
TRAFFIC ENFORCEMENT UNIT
SERGEANT SAMUEL V. JELSMA
FEBRUARY 11, 2002
Two persons died over the weekend of injuries they received in separate traffic accidents in the South Kohala District.
In the first accident, a 13-year-old girl was killed and two others were seriously injured in a one-car crash Saturday (February 9, 2002) near the 11-mile marker on Waikoloa Road.
The fatality victim was identified as Kaitlyn Rae Higgins, of a Waimea address.
Responding to a 12:37 p.m. call, police officers determined that a new 2002 Subaru sedan driven by Jeremiah Vrooman, 20, was heading down Waikoloa Road when his car apparently went out of control on a right bend in the road, crossed the centerline and ran off the left shoulder and down an embankment, striking and uprooting several trees.
The driver of an oncoming car some distance away witnessed the crash, stopped to see what had happened and reported the accident.
The fatality victim, whohad been a passenger in the front seat, was taken to the Kona Community Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 4:43 p.m. The driver and rear seat passenger, identified as Ryan Higgins, 13, were taken to the North Hawaii Community Hospital, where both were confined in guarded but stable condition.
Police said the fatality victim and rear-seat passenger were part of triplets, and the driver was their brother-in-law.
All occupants appeared to have been wearing their seatbelts at the time of the crash, and airbags had been deployed.
Speed is believed to have been a factor in the crash. Traffic Enforcement unit officers are continuing an investigation into the accident and have ordered an autopsy to determine the exact cause of Higgins’ death.
In the second accident, a 45-year-old Hilo man was killed and two other persons were injured in a head-on collision that occurred early Sunday (February 10, 2002) on Mamalahoa Highway (Route 19) in Waimea.
The fatality victim was identified as Ador Laguisma, of a Hilo address.
Responding to a 5:46 a.m. call, police officers determined that the Laguisma was driving a 1987 Nissan Maxima sedan east when his car drifted across the centerline and into the westbound traffic lane at a right bend in the road. An oncoming 2001 Dodge pickup truck attempted to avoid a collision by swerving into the eastbound lane, but Laguisma also pulled back into the lane and the vehicles collided head-on.
Laguisma, the lone occupant of his car, was taken to the Kona Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 9:53 a.m. The driver of the pickup truck, identified as Leighton Holi, 32, of Keaau, and his passenger, identified as Gemer Marzan, 34,of Pepeekeo, were taken to the North Hawaii Community Hospital in Waimea. Holi was confined in stable condition with a hip injury; Marzan was confined in guarded but stable condition with a fractured rib and back.
Police learned that Laguisma had been heading home to Hilo from work at a Waikoloa hotel, while the Holi and his passenger were heading toward work at the same hotel. Fatigue is believed to have been a factor in the collision, and it was reported that Laguisma had only recently started working the midnight shift after switching from days.
All occupants are believed to have been wearing their seatbelts when the collision occurred. The airbags in the 2001 Dodge pickup, however, failed to deploy.
TEU officers are continuing the investigation into the collision and have ordered an autopsy to determine the exact cause of Laguisma’s death.
The weekend fatalities were the third and fourth so far this year, compared to none at the same time last year.
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