Not guilty plea for driver in crash that killed HFD veteran

  • David Mahon. (Courtesy photo/Special to West Hawaii Today)

  • A memorial centered by a photo of David Mahon and his 10-year-old son, Dylan, has been set up in memory of the Hawaii Fire Department veteran killed in a multiple-car crash May 22 on Mamalahoa Highway in North Kona. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)

  • Christopher Raymond Helmlinger turns to exit Kona Circuit Court Judge Melvin H. Fujino’s courtroom Thursday after pleading not guilty to manslaughter and second-degree negligent homicide charges. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

KEALAKEKUA — A Waimea man accused of manslaughter and negligent homicide in the traffic death of a Hawaii Fire Department veteran has pleaded not guilty to the charges stemming from the May 22 crash.

Christopher Raymond Helmlinger, 21, made his initial appearance in Kona Circuit Court before Judge Melvin H. Fujino Thursday. He entered not guilty pleas to manslaughter and second-degree negligent homicide in connection with the multiple-car wreck that killed David Mahon, a 49-year-old Kailua-Kona man who had a lengthy career with the fire department.

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Fujino set jury trial for Sept. 4.

The judge also ordered Helmlinger to surrender his driver’s license to police after the hearing. He must also not leave Hawaii Island, and the U.S. passport he holds, which Helmlinger told the judge his father was mailing to him, must be turned in as well.

Helmlinger, who was indicted by a grand jury on June 10, remains out of custody having previously posted bail of $100,000 two days after the fatal crash near mile marker 14 on Mamalahoa Highway in North Kona.

Mahon’s mother, Chris Anderson, was present for the hearing, sitting in the gallery with a member of the Hawaii County Prosecuting Attorney’s Victim/Witness Program. She declined comment outside the courtroom after the hearing but stared at Helmlinger as she exited the courtroom.

Helmlinger’s attorney Michael Schlueter declined comment after the hearing.

Police say Helmlinger was driving a Kona-bound Honda Pilot and overtaking several vehicles in a no-passing zone when he collided head-on with the motorcycle that Mahon was operating the morning of May 22. Mahon, an 18-year veteran of the Hawaii Fire Department, who earlier this year became a fire captain in Hilo, was headed to work in Hilo at the time of the fatal crash.

A third vehicle, a white Jeep Grand Cherokee, was also involved in the wreck. Neither Helmlinger nor the driver of the Jeep required medical attention.

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Manslaughter is a class A felony punishable by up to 2o years imprisonment upon conviction, while second-degree negligent homicide is a class C felony that carries a potential five-year prison term.

 

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