Three generations of one family and a loving couple were the five victims of a horrific head-on crash that spared no lives Wednesday south of Pahala.
Naalehu residents Richard Taylor and Trini Ballesteros were the occupants of a 2002 Ford F-350 dually that was struck head-on by a white Nissan Altima sedan carrying three occupants near mile marker 54, just to the Kona side of the Punaluu Stream Bridge, said Taylor’s daughter, Kuuipo Taylor-Lindsey, who spoke with West Hawaii Today Thursday afternoon.
The three occupants of the sedan were identified as Sacramento Attorney Donald Ingoglia, 73; Philip A. Ingoglia, 39, of Costa Rica; and Isidora I. Ingoglia, 9, of Costa Rica, Hawaii Police Department spokeswoman Chris Loos said. Donald was the driver, Philip, his son, was a front-seat passenger and Isidora, his grandson, was a rear-seat passenger.
Police Thursday afternoon said an autopsy determined Donald Ingoglia suffered a medical condition that apparently caused him to lose control and cross the center line. Police also said speed did not appear to be a factor in the crash.
A woman who answered a Kailua-Kona phone number listed for Donald Ingoglia declined comment.
The five victims were involved in a head-on collision reported about 10:15 a.m. just south of the Punaluu Bridge on Highway 11 in Ka‘u. The crash happened on the Kona side of the bridge and both vehicles came to rest on the bridge, with the sedan lying nearly perpendicular to the road and the truck lying on its passenger side. No skid marks were visible from the Kona side.
The truck, which sustained extensive front-end and undercarriage damage, subsequently caught fire with Taylor and Ballesteros inside, killing them before firefighters arrived on the scene, according to the Hawaii Fire Department.
The sedan, carrying the child and two men, also sustained extensive front-end damage and all airbags deployed in the crash. The men died before firefighters arrived at the scene; the child, who was found unrestrained, unresponsive and in critical condition was transported to Ka‘u Hospital and then Kona Community Hospital where he died Wednesday afternoon.
Firefighters and police remained on the scene for about six hours investigating the crash and removing victims from the vehicles, prompting the closure of Highway 11, the sole means of traversing the Ka‘u district.
Taylor-Lindsey described her father, 64-year-old Richard Taylor: “My dad was a good man. He was good to everyone. He was kind and friendly and would always help anyone who needed help.” Taylor is survived by children Taylor-Lindsey, Bodie Kuahuia, Richard Taylor Jr., and Donnetta Taylor; a twin brother and many others.
Taylor-Lindsey said her father’s girlfriend Trini Ballesteros, whom her father knew in high school before marrying his late wife and raising a family in Hilo, was loving and caring. The two, she said, were happy and loved being together.
Taylor, a 1966 Ka‘u High School graduate who played football and was part of the marching band, was also a Vietnam War combat veteran, she said. At the time of the crash, her father, once a commercial fisherman, was on his way to ensure the seaworthiness of his boat, which he purchased about a year ago to get back into fishing before having a heart attack and three subsequent surgeries.
Ballesteros, she said, helped Taylor take care of his mother, who resides in Ka‘u, and also cared for Taylor during his recovery period.
Taylor also was a truck driver who recently retired from Taylor Built Construction in Naalehu, said the company’s owner, Robert Taylor, who is not related to the victim. Robert Taylor described his former employee as a “hard working” driver who knew the roads and would help anyone.
“He was a real compassionate person — and somewhat of a poet,” he said. “We’re definitely going to miss him.”
Seven lives have been lost on Hawaii Island public roadways this year, compared with no fatalities at this point in 2012.