Police on Thursday identified two men killed in recent car crashes, while warning Hawaii Island drivers about the significant increase in traffic fatalities on the island.
Steven T. Coss, 25, of Hilo died July 29 of injuries he suffered in a one-vehicle crash July 23 on South Point Road. Police said Coss was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from his car.
Clint A. Corfman, 39, of Kurtistown died Aug. 2 from injuries he suffered in a one-vehicle crash in Ka‘u.
As of Wednesday, 24 people have died in traffic collisions and crashes on Hawaii Island this year, Police Chief Harry Kubojiri said in a message to drivers. That’s more than the 22 deaths recorded in the county all of last year, and nearing the 2010 total of 27 fatalities, Kubojiri said.
The chief said he is “pleading” for drivers to “drive with extreme caution,” a press release Thursday said.
“Try to anticipate erratic driving and be mentally prepared for unexpected dangers,” Kubojiri said. “Practice safe, defensive driving and help reduce needless loss of life. Together, all of us can make a difference as we travel our Big Island roadways.”
Several factors have been present in many of the 73 traffic deaths in the last two and a half years, police said. A department analysis of the deaths showed:
- 35 were alcohol-related (30 drivers and 5 pedestrians);
- 21 were prescription drugs-related (20 drivers and 1 pedestrian);
- 17 were marijuana-related (16 drivers and 1 pedestrian);
- six were methamphetamine–related;
- four were amphetamine–related; and
- one was cocaine-related.
In many cases, multiple substances were factors in the same crash. The above figures don’t include impaired passengers who may have contributed to traffic fatalities. In some of the more recent crashes, police have not yet received toxicology results to determine whether dangerous substances contributed to the tragedies, so the substance count could increase, police said.
Other contributing factors in the fatalities were speed (23), and not wearing a seat belt (25) or a motorcycle helmet (13), police said.
The victims in the fatalities ranged from 6 months to 88 years old.
Police are stepping up DUI enforcement, but Kubojiri said a community effort may help reduce the traffic death toll.