Big Island ends year with 32 traffic fatalities

  • A crash July 19 on Queen Kaahumanu Highway (Highway 19) between The Four Seasons Resort Hualalai and Waikoloa Road killed 73-year-old bicyclist Roy Johnson of Texas. The roadway was closed several hours while officers investigated. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

HILO — Impaired driving was a factor in at least 19 of the 32 traffic fatalities on Hawaii Island in 2018. And that total could rise since toxicology reports haven’t been completed on all fatal collisions, police said.

Of the deaths where impairment was found to be a factor, seven were because of drugs and 12 were found to be a combination of alcohol and drugs.


“That’s a fatal combination, alcohol and drugs,” Torey Keltner, program manager for Hawaii Police Department’s Traffic Services Division, said Wednesday.

According to Keltner, in eight deaths, both speed and inattention to driving are listed as factors. Inattention alone is a factor in eight additional deaths. Speeding alone is cited as a factor in two deaths, as is reckless driving. And three deaths had miscellaneous “illness” or “other distractions” listed as factors in the collision.

The year-end death toll on Big Island roadways is the same as the official tallies in 2017 and 2016, although there were actually 36 people killed in vehicular collisions in 2017. Four fatalities the previous year were not counted toward the official toll since two occurred on private property and two within the boundaries of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. There were also two additional in 2016 that occurred on private property, bringing that year’s unofficial total to 34.

Kona, by far, had the highest fatality total, with 18. There were five fatalities in Ka‘u, three in Puna, two each in North Hilo and South Kohala, and one each in South Hilo and North Kohala.

There were no traffic fatalities in Hilo town in 2018.

While the island’s fatality count has been relatively stable the past three years, the total for each of the past three years represents more official traffic fatalities than for the years of 2014 and 2015 combined. There were 19 official traffic deaths in 2015 and 11 in 2014.

The worst year this decade for official traffic deaths on the Big Island is 2012, when 38 fatalities were tallied.

There were 30 fatal collisions in 2018, with dual fatalities in two of them.

There were no traffic fatalities in January 2018, but the first fatal crash of the year, about 8 p.m. Feb. 2 near the 84-mile marker of Highway 11 near Honomalino in South Kona, killed two individuals, 54-year-old Roxane Cho, and 56-year-old Richard Chamberlain, both of Kailua-Kona. Cho and Chamberlain, both pedestrians, were in the southbound lane of Mamalahoa Highway when they were struck by a Nissan sedan driven by a 55-year-old Ocean View woman.

Neither speed nor alcohol was suspected as a factor in the collision.

The other double-fatal crash occurred on June 1 on Palani Road near Laimana Street in Kailua Kona. Police say a 69-year-old man from Japan was driving a 2016 Nissan sedan west on Palani when he crossed the centerline and collided head-on with a 2018 GMC pickup truck driven by a 32-year-old Kailua-Kona man. The crash killed two women passengers in the Nissan, 69-year-old Michiko Ono of Tokyo and 70-year-old Takako Oikawa of Kanagawa, Japan.

Police think inattention to driving was a factor in the collision.

July was the month with the largest number of fatalities, five — as well as the deadliest day on Big Island roads, July 16, with three people dying in separate collisions, one in Puna and two in Kona.

For the year 2018, there were 1,095 DUI arrests compared to 1,160 in 2017, a decrease of 5.6 percent.

The numbers of arrests by district were: Kona, 466; South Hilo, 279; Puna, 219; South Kohala, 85; Ka‘u, 23; North Kohala, 10; Hamakua, nine; and North Hilo, four.

There were 163 drivers arrested for DUI who were involved in traffic accidents in 2018, compared to 220 in 2017, a decrease of 25.9 percent.

There were 54 drivers under 21 arrested for DUI in 2018, compared with 72 in 2017, a decrease of 25 percent.

There were arrests for other charges stemming from the 1,095 DUI arrests, as well, including: 46 for open container of alcohol in vehicle; four for speeding; 208 for driving without a license; 94 for driving while license suspended; 276 for driving without insurance; 17 for promoting a dangerous drug; and 24 for marijuana possession. There were also 192 arrests for other related moving and/or regulatory violations.

There were 1,137 major accidents recorded in 2018, collisions in which the total estimated damage exceeded $3,000. That’s a decrease of 16 percent from the 1,366 major accidents logged in 2017.

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2018 Hawaii Island traffic fatality list from the Hawaii Police Department. Dates are dates of death. Dates of collision might be earlier.

1. Roxane Cho, 54, of Kailua-Kona, Feb. 2, Highway 11 near 84-mile marker, Honomalino.

2. Richard Chamberlain, 56, of Kailua-Kona, Feb. 3, Highway 11 near 84-mile marker, Honomalino.

3. Myron Okubo, 66, of Kapaau, Feb. 19, Keokea Beach Road, Kapaau.

4. Suzanne Hoverson, 38, of Minneapolis, Feb. 20, Highway 130 near Launahele Road, Pahoa.

5. Peter Sigrah, 50, of Kailua-Kona, March 1, Highway 19 at intersection of Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, Kailua-Kona.

6. Trina Walker, 41, of Holualoa, March 13, Highway 19 near 83-mile marker, North Kona.

7. Keala Moniz-Torres, 15, of Keaau, March 16, Government Beach Road, Pahoa.

8. Joseph H. Wolf, 40, of Kailua-Kona, April 18, Highway 19 near 25-mile marker, Laupahoehoe.

9. Henry Peters, 69, of Kailua-Kona, May 1, Highway 190 near 28-mile marker, North Kona.

10. Brayden T. Martin, 28, of Hilo, May 13, Highway 11 near 41-mile marker, Kapapala, Ka‘u.

11. Kenneth “Key” Mepham Jr., 59, of Kalapana, May 21, Highway 130 near 21-mile marker, Kalapana.

12. Julia Gonzaga, 84, of Pahala, May 28, Highway 11 near 51-mile marker, Pahala.

13. Michiko Ono, 69, of Tokyo, June 1, Palani Road near Laimana Street, Kailua-Kona.

14. Takako Oikawa, 70, of Kanagawa, Japan, June 1, Palani Road near Laimana Street, Kailua-Kona.

15. Ryan Estavanik, 29, of Waimea, June 3, Kawaihae Road near 64-mile marker, Waimea.

16. Roger Vargas, 71, of Waimea, July 10, Daniel K. Inouye Highway between 25- and 26-mile markers, North Hilo.

17. Peter Veincent, 48, of Hilo, July 16, Highway 130 near Pohaku Place, Keaau.

18. Gerald Wahinekapu, 45, of Kailua-Kona, July 16, Highway 190 near 18-mile marker, North Kona.

19. Mark Brown, 61, of Reno, Nev., July 16, Highway 11 near 88-mile marker, South Kona.

20. Roy Johnson, 73, of Houston, July 19, Highway 19 near 85-mile marker, North Kona.

21. Derick Tokjen, 24, of Ocean View, Aug. 27, Highway 11 between 82- and 83-mile markers, Ocean View.

22. Devin Miles, 28, of Ocean View, Sept. 16, Highway 11 near 83-mile marker, Ocean View.

23. Brittney Perry, 19, of Naalehu, Sept. 21, Highway 11 near 58-mile marker, Ka‘u.

24. Raymond Mata Jr., 51, of Waikoloa, Sept. 29, Alii Drive, Kailua-Kona.

25. John Krasovsky, 25, of Ninole, Oct. 6, Highway 190 near 17-mile marker, Kailua-Kona.

26. Michael Shine, 53, of Waikoloa, Oct. 14, Highway 19 near 85-mile marker, Kailua-Kona.

27. Oliver Seitz, 26, of Holualoa, Nov. 5, Kuakini Highway near Higashihara Park, Kailua-Kona.

28. Keslyn E. Tulensru, 23, of Hilo, Nov. 21, Daniel K. Inouye Highway near 21-mile marker, South Hilo.

29. Peter Finnegan, 70, of Kailua-Kona, Dec. 5, Ane Keohokalole Highway at Manawalea Street, Kailua-Kona.

30. Gilbert Motta, 40, of Kailua-Kona, Dec. 14, Henry Street and Malulani Road, Kailua-Kona.


31. John Paul Simonsen, 45, of Waikoloa, Dec. 15, Mamalahoa Highway near 7-mile marker, Holualoa.

32. Anson Guitang, 27, of Kapaau, Dec. 20, Kohala Mountain Road near 4.5-mile marker, Waimea.

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