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Hawaii’s Latino community identifies, mourns 2 of the victims of Queen Kaahumanu Highway crash

May 17, 2017 - 7:10pm

KAILUA-KONA — Hawaii’s Latino community is mourning the loss of two men after they succumbed to injuries they suffered in a two-vehicle crash early Wednesday morning.

“The Big Island Latino community is in shock,” said Angela Dean with Comunidad Latina De Hawaii. “Our Latino community is already closely knit, but this tragedy has further united the community.”

With permission from family, two men involved in a fiery car accident Wednesday morning were identified by Dean as Hector Vargas Vigil and Ocdulio Garcia Orellana. However, police have not officially identified the victims.

The collision, which killed three people, occurred at 6:26 a.m. about one mile north of the Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport on Queen Kaahumanu Highway. The third victim wasn’t identified by press time Wednesday night.

Hawaii police reported a Toyota 4Runner occupied by two men traveling north was in a collision with a Nissan Titan, occupied by a man and woman traveling south.

Both vehicles subsequently burst into flames. All that remained was torched and mangled wreckage, which caused a road closure of nearly six hours and delays for most of the morning across West Hawaii.

Police say the driver of the 4Runner was passing several vehicles on the highway.

“As he completed his pass the operator lost control of his vehicle, which caused it to veer into the oncoming lane where it was then involved in a broadside collision with a 2008 Nissan Titan operated by a 37-year-old Kamuela man,” police said.

An off-duty police officer driving to work and a fellow motorist stopped and were able to pull the woman from the truck, police said.

All individuals were transported to Kona Community Hospital. The three men were pronounced dead at the hospital and the woman from the truck is in critical condition.

Police believe speed was a factor in the crash, but it is not immediately known if alcohol was involved.

It marked the fifth traffic fatality on Hawaii roads since Sunday. On Sunday two men died in separate accidents. One occurred at the junction of Saddle Road and Mamalahoa Highway and another occurred in Keaau.

Orellana had just turned 33 years old. Dean said the two men were friends and co-workers. They carpooled to work every day.

Dean said the two men were neighbors in Guatemala and moved to the U.S. together. They lived in Hawaii for three years. She added they were both humble, friendly, hardworking, positive and had great senses of humor.

“They were both very well-liked by many,” she told West Hawaii Today. “They both had goals in which they wanted to accomplish.”

Dean said there has been an outpouring of concern and increased communication from extended family and friends between the community members.

“There is a lot of chatter within the community right now, everyone is trying to console and support one another,” Dean said.

Since the men’s families are still in Guatemala, Dean said, community members in Hawaii have expressed interest in helping them with costs to send their remains back to their country.

Dean added Thursday that the families of the men and the Latino community express their great sorrow and condolences for the victims and their families in the other vehicle.

“It is very unfortunate that due to someone’s poor judgement innocent lives were affected and lost. This tragedy has affected so many in our communities and we express our deepest condolences to the other victims and pray for the recovery of the woman who is currently in critical condition. We hold them in our prayers,” Dead relayed from the Orellana and Vigil families.

Dean added Comunidad Latina De Hawaii is also providing assistance in organizing memorial services locally and social support for the few family members who live on the island.

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