Hawai‘i Police Department
Traffic Enforcement Unit
Sergeant Jeremy Riddle
Phone: (808) 961-2391
Report No.: 21-055552
Hawai‘i Island police are investigating a fatal traffic collision involving two family members from Hilo that occurred on Wednesday evening July 7, 2021, in the area of Kalanianaole Avenue and Kolea Street in Hilo.
When police responded to the 11:51 p.m. traffic collision, they determined that a stock 2001 Jeep Grand Cherokee sport utility vehicle traveling east on Kalanianaole Avenue negotiated a left curve too wide and fast for the wet roadway. This resulted in the Jeep veering off the right shoulder, striking a rock and telephone pole causing the vehicle to flip and roll to a stop.
The female front seat passenger of the Jeep, identified as 69-year-old Helen Napeahi of Hilo, suffered internal injuries as a result of the traffic collision. She was unresponsive at the scene and transported to Hilo Medical Center where she was pronounced dead at 2:28 a.m. on Thursday, July 8. An autopsy has been ordered to determine the exact cause of death. Police investigating the traffic collision have determined that the vehicle was equipped with lap/harness seatbelts however they were used without the shoulder harness.
The male operator of the Jeep, 26-year-old Kyle Napeahi of Hilo, who is the grandson of the decedent, did not receive any injuries as a result of the traffic collision. The Jeep’s operator was arrested for OVUII – operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant, driving without a valid driver’s license, and negligent homicide. Police are evaluating and testing the operator for intoxicants as part of their ongoing investigation.
Police also believe that drug use, speed, and inattention to driving are factors in this investigation.
This is the 13th fatal traffic collision of 2021 compared to 10 fatal traffic collisions during this same time period last year.
The East Hawaii Traffic Enforcement Unit has initiated a negligent homicide investigation, which is pending. Police are asking for anyone who may have witnessed the accident or has information to contact Officer Jared Cabatu at 961-2339 or via email Jared.Cabatu@HawaiiCounty.gov . Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo.