Woman electrocuted by downed utility lines

A woman was killed and a man injured Tuesday night after power lines fell on a parked vehicle they were in near a residential property in the Hawaiian Shores subdivision in Pahoa.

The 58-year-old man and 59-year-old woman were seated in the parked vehicle in the 15-2700 block of Oopu Street when a portion of a tree fell onto the power lines causing the energized lines to fall and come into contact with the roof of the vehicle and nearby surrounding foliage, according to the Hawaii Police Department.

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Police said the downed lines continued to arc on the roof of the vehicle. The man exited the vehicle by climbing through a rear tailgate window that had been previously removed and exited without incident.

The woman then attempted to exit the vehicle through the same tailgate window and subsequently fell on a galvanized gate that was directly behind the vehicle. As she fell she came into contact with the fence, as well as the vehicle, and was electrocuted, police said.

The man attempted to pull the woman to safety but was unsuccessful and he was subsequently thrown to the ground by the force of the electricity, according to police.

The man was treated at the scene for minor injuries. The woman was transported to Hilo Medical Center where she was later pronounced dead.

Residents are advised to stay at least 30 feet or more from downed power lines. Someone inside a car that a power line has fallen upon should remain inside the car if possible, but if that is not possible, should jump free of the car so that the body is completely clear of the vehicle before touching the ground, according to Hawaiian Electric.

Touching the ground or grounded equipment while also touching equipment in contact with the power line increases the risk of electrical shock.

The Area I Criminal Investigation Section is investigating the incident, which has been classified as a public accident and a coroner’s inquest investigation has been initiated. An autopsy will be performed to determine the exact cause of death.

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The victim’s identity is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

Anyone who may have witnessed the accident or who has information about the incident should contact Lt. Rio Amon-Wilkins of the Area I Criminal Investigation Section at (808) 961-2252 or via email at rio.amon-wilkins@Hawaiicounty.gov or call the police department’s non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311.

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