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Fatal traffic crash, weather-related incidents close roads

Updated: 
October 17, 2017 - 12:05am

HILO — Several major Big Island roads were closed last weekend after a fatal traffic crash and several weather-related incidents.

On Saturday morning, a 49-year-old Hilo man was killed and a 36-year-old Mountain View woman critically injured in a head-on collision on the Daniel K. Inouye Highway, also known as Saddle Road.

Police reports indicate the man, who was unidentified at press time, had attempted to pass another vehicle and struck the woman’s vehicle in the oncoming lane.

The man, who was driving a 2001 Dodge Caravan, was pronounced dead at the North Hawaii Community Hospital at 8:42 a.m. Saturday, while the woman, who was driving a 2015 Honda Fit, was listed in critical condition.

The crash closed a long section of Saddle Road, from mile-marker 9 southwest of Hilo — where the crash occurred — to the Waikii entrance south of Waimea. The road remained closed for approximately five hours Saturday.

Police believe that speed was a factor in the crash. The man was not wearing a seatbelt; the female was wearing a seatbelt.

The day before, National Weather Service in Honolulu issued a high surf advisory for the northern, southern and eastern regions of the island. In response, Hawaii County Civil Defense closed the Bayfront Highway between Pauahi Street and Waianuenue Avenue for fear of high waves and waterborne debris.

Bayfront Avenue remained closed late Monday and drivers were encouraged to use Kamehameha Avenue instead. The National Weather Service’s high surf advisory extends until Wednesday evening.

A third road closure occurred Monday morning when a tree fell across the Old Mamalahoa Highway near Papaikou, completely blocking the road. The road was closed for more than four hours.

Apart from the crash, two of the road closures were caused, at least in part, by a combination of significant weather events.

On Friday, nearly 3 inches of rain fell on Hilo within 24 hours — nearly 4 inches fell on Papaikou during the same time. Meanwhile, winds reached nearly 30 mph at various points over the weekend, according to National Weather Service.

Email Michael Brestovansky at mbrestovansky@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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