Those close to Bristol Thompson reflect on life of devoted mother who died Saturday

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KAILUA-KONA — Bristol Thompson’s life revolved around children, both her own and those she cared for as a professional.

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KAILUA-KONA — Bristol Thompson’s life revolved around children, both her own and those she cared for as a professional.

Thompson, 31, died Saturday afternoon at The Queen’s Medical Center on Oahu following injuries suffered in a one-vehicle traffic crash on Alii Drive earlier that morning. She is survived by her three young children, a girl and two boys.

Crystal Bentley, who described Thompson as a “really, really close friend” with whom she spoke daily, said Thompson was the quintessential example of what a mother should be.

While many parents approached by their children in the midst of a conversation with another adult might hush their kids, Thompson would instead stop mid-sentence to tend to her children’s concerns, Bentley said.

“She was always smiling, always happy, always laughing,” Bentley continued. “Everybody looked at her as one of the best moms.”

Nolan Udac, Thompson’s former boyfriend of eight years and father to her three children, echoed Bentley’s sentiment.

“I didn’t realize how much our relationship meant, even not being together for all this time, until after something like this happens,” he said. “She was a good person with solid values. And as good of a person as she was, she was a better mother and role model. I was hoping she’d be around a little longer to show my daughter how to be one, too.”

Thompson, a resident of Kailua-Kona and a graduate of Konawaena High School who’d been operating a daycare center for several years, was in the front passenger seat of a 2015 Dodge Ram truck traveling south on Alii Drive near the Queen Kalama Avenue intersection during the early hours of Saturday morning, Christmas Eve.

According to a release from the Hawaii County Police Department, she fell out of the passenger side of the vehicle and was run over by one of the rear tires.

The driver of the truck, identified as James K. Hezekia Jr. of Kealakekua, was arrested on suspicion of first-degree negligent injury and operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant. He was later released without charges pending further investigation.

The incident was not Hezekia’s first brush with the law. He has a criminal history spanning the past dozen years, according to the Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center.

Hezekia was convicted in 2008 of three Class C felonies stemming from an incident in 2004. Those crimes included unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle, theft and a weapons offense for which he received probation on top of jail time.

He’s also been convicted of operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant on two separate occasions prior to his arrest on Dec. 24 in the incident that ultimately led to Thompson’s death.

That arrest came just a couple of weeks after a Dec. 9 proof of compliance hearing stemming from a November 2015 DUI conviction. That hearing was continued to Feb. 10, 2017, because Hezekia failed to prove he’d completed court-ordered driver’s education.

His record also includes a host of other misdemeanors and petty misdemeanors, including several charges of operating a vehicle with a suspended license. On Oct. 6, according to court records, he pleaded no contest to driving with a license suspended because of a prior DUI conviction and failing to obey a stop sign. His license was revoked for one year, among other penalties.

After the incident on Saturday, police determined Thompson was transported by personal vehicle to the Kona Community Hospital.

Bentley, who received a call sometime between 2-3 a.m. explaining Thompson was in critical condition, drove from her home in Hilo to be with her friend at the hospital. Bentley said Thompson was resuscitated twice at KCH before eventually being flown to Oahu, where she was pronounced dead at 1:36 p.m.

The Traffic Enforcement Unit has assumed investigative duties in the case and has reclassified the investigation to negligent homicide. The unit has ordered an autopsy to confirm the exact cause of death.

Police request that anyone who may have witnessed the crash to contact Officer Justin Hooser at 326-4646, extension 229. Those who wish to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300. Crime Stoppers keeps all information confidential.

Thompson’s death marks the 32nd traffic fatality on Hawaii Island in 2016. There were 17 reported traffic fatalities during the same time period in 2015.

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Udac said Thompson’s passing is a tremendous blow not only to her children, but also to all those she helped care for over the years and all those she would have cared for had she lived.

“Even after we had kids, she still ran a daycare,” Udac said. “That kind of speaks for itself.”