A 69-year-old woman is dead and her 26-year-old grandson injured following a single-car crash Wednesday night in Hilo.
Responding to the 11:51 p.m. report, Hawaii Police Department officers determined that a 2001 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV traveling east on Kalanianaole Avenue negotiated a left curve too wide and fast for the wet roadway resulting in the Jeep veering off the right shoulder. The vehicle then struck a rock and telephone pole causing it to flip and roll to a stop.
A woman in the front passenger seat, identified as 69-year-old Helen Napeahi of Hilo, suffered internal injuries as a result of the crash. She was unresponsive at the scene and transported to Hilo Medical Center where she was pronounced dead at 2:28 a.m. on Thursday. An autopsy has been ordered to determine the exact cause of death.
The man operating the Jeep, 26-year-old Kyle Napeahi of Hilo, who is the grandson of the decedent, did not receive any injuries as a result of the traffic crash. The 26-year-old was drunken driving, driving without a valid license and negligent homicide.
Police determined that the vehicle was equipped with lap/harness seatbelts however they were used without the shoulder harness. Officers also believe that drug use, speed, and inattention to driving were also factors in the crash.
This is the 13th fatal traffic collision of 2021 compared to 10 fatal traffic collisions during this same time period last year.
The East Hawaii Traffic Enforcement Unit has initiated a negligent homicide investigation. Anyone who may have witnessed the crash or has information should contact Officer Jared Cabatu by calling (808) 961-2339 or via email to Jared.Cabatu@HawaiiCounty.gov. Those who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at (808) 961-8300.