A Waimea man is facing seven charges in connection with a two-car crash Nov. 10, 2019, that claimed the life of a mother of four and injured three girls.
A Kona grand jury on Tuesday indicted Nicholas Abarcar on manslaughter, second-degree negligent homicide, two counts first-degree negligent injury, second-degree negligent injury and operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant.
Abarcar was operating southbound on Queen Kaahumanu Highway a black 2017 Jeep Renegade SUV when the then-25-year-old passed a vehicle within a passing zone but collided head-on with a gray 2015 Honda Pilot SUV that was headed northbound on the highway, according to police. The collision occurred at 2:10 p.m. north of the entrance to Ke Kahakai State Park in North Kona.
The Honda’s driver, 35-year-old Cassandra “Cassie” Lynn Ellis, of Kailua-Kona, was killed on impact.
Her three passengers — identified as Taylor Campogan, and Kawena Haserot, both age 15 at the time of the crash, and Trinity Campogan, then age 10 — were sent to Kona Community Hospital. Taylor Campogan and Trinity Campogan were Ellis’s daughters; Haserot and Taylor Campogan were best friends who both attended Kealakehe High School.
Ellis was taking the three for some fun in the sun at Kua Bay when the crash occurred. Trinity was in the front passenger seat next to her mom, whom Taylor was sitting behind along with Kawena. Each was wearing a seat belt.
“The last thing I remember from that day was just jamming to some music and having some fun with my mom, and with Trinity and Kawena, right after we left Pine Tree Cafe,” Taylor told West Hawaii Today days after the wreck. “We had just left and were jamming out to some music.”
She said she awoke at the hospital in Oahu to learn what happened, including that her mother had died and her best friend and little sister were injured.
“My mom to me was everything. She took care of me and my sisters. She set up a lot of opportunities for us,” Taylor said. “She was my person to talk to, even though sometimes it wasn’t the easiest to talk to her. She was like my best friend. And my mother like all in one.”
Abarcar was also injured in the crash and was taken to Kona Community Hospital for treatment of undisclosed injuries, according to police. He was later arrested on suspicion of first-degree negligent homicide, DUI, reckless driving and three counts first-degree negligent injury but released pending further investigation.
A bench warrant had yet to be issued for his arrest following Tuesday’s indictment, according to court records.
According to court records, Abarcar pleaded no contest to DUI, having a blood alcohol content over 0.08%, back on May 15, 2018. He had been arrested and charged with DUI and driving without a license following a traffic stop on Aug. 22, 2017.
He was found guilty and sentenced to pay $312 in fines and fees, $350 in restitution and complete driver’s education and a substance abuse rehabilitation program. His license was also revoked from Sept. 22, 2017, through Sept. 21, 2018.
Manslaughter is a Class A felony that carries a maximum sentence of 20 years upon conviction, while second-degree negligent homicide is a Class C felony with a maximum five-year prison term. Abarcar can be convicted of one or the other, but not both charges in connection with Ellis’s death.
Attempts to reach family and friends of Ellis were unsuccessful as of press-time Wednesday.