Police: Teen died in crash of stolen Jeep

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HILO — A 14-year-old Pahoa boy driving a stolen Jeep died from injuries sustained in a one-vehicle crash six weeks ago in Hawaiian Beaches subdivision, police said Wednesday.

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HILO — A 14-year-old Pahoa boy driving a stolen Jeep died from injuries sustained in a one-vehicle crash six weeks ago in Hawaiian Beaches subdivision, police said Wednesday.

At 10:07 p.m. on April 14, a Puna patrol officer responded to a reported theft of a 2001 Jeep sport utility vehicle that had just occurred at a residence on Palani Street in Pahoa.

The officer, while conducting checks for the stolen vehicle, heard the screeching of tires and the sound of a collision, police said.

At 11:28 p.m., the officer found the stolen Jeep, which had collided with a utility pole on South Puni Makai Loop near Ono Street.

The boy, whom police say was driving the Jeep, was taken to Hilo Medical Center for his injuries and then medevaced to The Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu, where he was pronounced dead at 10:55 a.m. on April 16.

Police did not release the victim’s name, but sources identified him as Chase K. Hook-Banuvong, a student at Pahoa Intermediate School.

Although official word of the teen’s death wasn’t immediately released, there were social media posts.

“I can’t imagine how rough it’s been … I hope all your family finds the answers and peace you need,” one poster wrote.

“Rest In Peace Chase … prayers to the entire Ohana, may our lord give u strength &comfort at this time of great sorrow,” wrote another.

There is an online fundraiser to help with funeral expenses at https://www.gofundme.com/blessings-for-my-nephew-chase.

Police are classifying the boy’s death as a coroner’s inquest, and an autopsy has been ordered to determine the exact cause of death.

Anyone who witnessed or has information regarding the crash is asked to call Officer Clarence Acob at 961-2293 or Crime Stoppers at 961-8300.

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This is the 18th official traffic fatality this year compared to 10 official traffic deaths at this time last year. There are also four vehicle-related deaths this year police don’t count toward the official total because one occurred on a private road, another in a residential parking lot, and two others on Highway 11 within the boundaries of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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