Driver Charged in Death of Pedestrian in Kona 02-24-02

PHONE: 961-2332
FEBRUARY 24, 2002


Police have charged a 39-year-old Kona man with a variety of offenses in a fatal accident that occurred Saturday (February 23, 2002) on Alii Drive in Kailua-Kona.

On Sunday, police charged Stephen St. Clair, 39, of a Kailua-Kona address, with manslaughter, drunk driving, reckless driving, reckless endangering, having no auto insurance and driving left of center. He is currently being held in lieu of $14,000 bail at the Kona Police Station

St. Clair was charged after his van struck a 58-year-old visitor from California who died of injuries at the Kona Community Hospital.

The victim, identified as Jane O’Brien, of Santa Barbara, California, was struck while standing on the shoulder of Alii Drive in front of the Hale Halewai O Holualoa Church.

Responding to a 4:06 p.m. call, police officers determined that O’Brien was struck by a 1982 GMC van driven by St. Clair. St. Clair was driving the van out of Holualoa Beach Park onto Alii Drive near the intersection with Royal Poinciana Drive when he accelerated rapidly. He was in the process of “burning rubber” when he spun the vehicle in a half-circle, crossed the centerline and struck the victim, who was standing on the paved oceanside shoulder. The van knocked the victim into a stone wall, initially pinning her against it before the vehicle disengaged and continued through the wall surrounding the church.

O’Brien was given cardio-pulmonary resuscitation at the scene and then taken to the Kona hospital, where she was later pronounced dead at 4:44 p.m.

St. Clair, who had not been wearing his seatbelt, was not injured in the incident. Still sitting in the van at the time police arrived, he was subsequently arrested.

The victim’s sister, identified as Linda Cramer, 61, of Culpeper, Virginia, had been standing alongside the victim at the time of the accident. Cramer told police that she and her sister had just come back from a walk into town to do some shopping and were heading back to their condominium when they stopped to read the sign fronting the historic church. She said she had just mentioned that they should visit the church for the morning service on Sunday when she heard a loud squealing of tires and turned to see the van speeding toward them. Cramer said they both attempted to run out of its path, but the van struck her sister and narrowly missed her. She said the vehicle continued to accelerate after it struck her sister until it came to a stop when it slammed into the wall.

Police determined that St. Clair, had been drinking alcohol in the park before the accident and had been highly intoxicated at the time.

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

O’Brien’s death was the seventh traffic-related fatality on the Big Island so far this year, compared to none at the same time last year.

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