Hilo man indicted for traffic crash that killed bicyclist

HILO — A Hilo man who allegedly struck and killed an elderly bicyclist almost two years ago on the northern outskirts of Hilo has been indicted by a Hilo grand jury for the incident.

The indictment returned Wednesday charges Dylen J. Benevides with second-degree negligent homicide.

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Police say Dylen J. Benevides, then 26, was driving a Nissan sedan north on Hawaii Belt Road near the Wainaku Executive Center shortly before 6 a.m. on Dec. 6, 2017, when his car struck 70-year-old Jerry Lee Wiseman, who was riding north on the highway’s shoulder.

Wiseman died at the scene.

Benevides reportedly complained of neck pain and was taken by ambulance to Hilo Medical Center, where he was treated and released. He also was arrested at the time on suspicion of negligent homicide, but was released from custody without being charged pending further investigation.

Police said at the time they thought speed was a factor in the crash.

Police closed the Hamakua-bound lanes of Highway 19 for several hours while they investigated the collision and diverted traffic to Wainaku Avenue via Hau Lane.

The indictment accuses Benevides of “operation of a vehicle in a negligent manner” and describes Wiseman as a “vulnerable user” legally riding a bicycle on a public roadway.

Second-degree negligent homicide is a Class C felony punishable by up to five years imprisonment upon conviction. A bench warrant was issued for Benevides’ arrest. Bail was set at $2,000.

Wiseman’s daughter, Noel Gerulat, is suing Benevides for the crash that killed her father. Attorney Robert Marx filed the wrongful death civil lawsuit last month in Hilo Circuit Court on behalf of Gerulat, who lives in Utah.

The civil complaint claims Benevides “suddenly and without warning … failed to yield the right of way” to Wiseman and “ran off the roadway, striking the decedent.”

The suit seeks unspecified monetary damages for pain, suffering and emotional distress, special damages for funeral expenses, medical costs and economic loss, plus attorneys’ fees and costs.

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A check of court records shows no criminal record for Benevides, but he was cited Feb. 28, 2011, for driving 48 mph in a 35 mph zone. He paid a $122 fine for the speeding ticket.

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

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