KAILUA-KONA — The conditions of two teenage girls hospitalized Sunday after a fatal car crash in North Kona have been upgraded.
The girls, both age 15, are now in serious, but stable condition at The Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu, according to Sean Ibara, coordinator for Corporate Communications.
Both teens were initially hospitalized in critical condition following the crash reported at 2:10 p.m. that claimed the life of 35-year-old Kailua-Kona resident Cassandra Lynn Ellis, according to the Hawaii Police Department.
Police determined that a 25-year-old man from Waimea was operating a black 2017 Jeep Renegade SUV when he passed a vehicle in a passing zone and struck head-on a northbound gray 2015 Honda Pilot SUV driven by Ellis.
The two 15-year-olds, along with another 10-year-old girl, were passengers in Ellis’s SUV at the time of the crash. The 10-year-old female was treated at the Kona Community Hospital and was later released, while the older girls were flown to Oahu for care.
Ellis was pronounced dead at 8:26 p.m. at Kona Community Hospital.
The driver of the Jeep Renegade was injured in the collision and was taken to Kona Community Hospital for treatment. The driver was later arrested for negligent homicide, operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant (O.V.U.I.I.), reckless driving, three counts of negligent injury. He was later released pending further investigation.
Police believe that speed and drugs are factors in the collision.
An autopsy has been ordered to determine the exact cause of death.
The Area II Traffic Enforcement Unit has initiated a negligent homicide investigation and is asking for anyone who may have witnessed the collision to contact Officer Kelsey Kobayashi at 326-4646 ext. 229 or 339-5651. Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo.
This is the 18th traffic fatality this year compared to 27 at this time last year.