3-15-24 (Update) Woman Killed in Head-on Honomū Crash Identified

Hawai‘i Police Department
Area I Traffic Enforcement Unit
Sergeant Jeremy Riddle
Phone: (808) 961-2391
Report No.: 24-019153

Media Release

Hawai‘i Island police have identified the woman who died following a two-vehicle traffic collision in Honomū on Māmalahoa Highway, (Highway 19), early Monday evening, February 26, 2024, as 48-year-old Marcella Tellez from California.

Responding to the 6:07 p.m. call, police learned that a 2019 Ford pickup truck traveling north toward Hāmākua on Māmalahoa Highway, near the 13-mile marker, was overtaking other vehicles when it struck a south bound 2023 Kia sedan, traveling toward Hilo, head-on. The collision caused major damage to both vehicles and the Kia caught on fire as a result of the collision.

The operator of the Ford pickup truck, a 35-year-old man from Pāpa‘aloa, was initially unresponsive at the scene. He was initially transported to the Hilo Medical Center where he was listed in stable condition, however due to his injuries was subsequently flown to Queens Medical Center on Oahu where he remains in stable condition.

The 22-year-old male operator of the Kia sedan sustained life-threatening injuries and was transported to Hilo Medical Center prior to being flown to Queens Medical Center where he remains in critical, but stable condition.

Tellez, who was a front seat passenger of the Kia sedan, was unresponsive at the scene and trapped within the vehicle when it caught on fire. After the Hawai‘i Fire Department extinguished the fire, she was transported to the Hilo Medical Center where she was pronounced dead at 11:09 p.m.

The occupants of the 2023 Kia sedan were related and visiting from California.

Hawai‘i Police Department’s  East Hawaii Traffic Enforcement Unit responded to the scene and launched a negligent homicide investigation, which is currently ongoing.

Police ask that anyone who has information regarding this collision to please contact Officer Johnathan Rapoza at (808) 961-2391 or via email at Johnathan.Rapoza@hawaiicounty.gov. Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at (808) 961-8300.

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