Witnesses testify in fatal crash
By JOHN BURNETT
Tribune-Herald staff writer
Two witnesses to a fatal traffic collision said they saw a pickup truck that ran over and killed an elderly bicyclist cross the median and go airborne before the crash.
Nerissa De Lima and Charlene Milazzo testified Tuesday in the preliminary hearing of 27-year-old Siaiku Lucky Aholelei in Hilo District Court. Aholelei is facing manslaughter and first-degree negligent homicide charges for the death of 66-year-old Cenon Visaya of Keaau.
Hilo District Judge Harry Freitas ruled that probable cause exists to try Aholelei on both charges. Aholelei was bound over to Hilo Circuit Court and ordered to appear before Judge Greg Nakamura for arraignment and plea on Oct. 14 at 8 a.m.
Police said Aholelei lost control of the 2004 Dodge pickup truck he was allegedly driving toward Mountain View shortly before noon Friday on Volcano Highway (Route 11) near Kamehameha Schools-Hawaii in Keaau, crossed two lanes of oncoming traffic and struck Visaya, who was riding his bike on the shoulder in the Hilo direction. Visaya was dead at the scene, police said.
De Lima said that she was going home from a medical appointment and encountered two black trucks, one with white racing stripes, the other with a painting on the side, near the corner of Kanoelehua Avenue and Makaala Street in Hilo.
She said the trucks appeared to be “playing tag,” speeding and making frequent lane changes all the way from Hilo to Keaau.
She said that after the trucks passed the Keaau Shopping Center, the one with racing stripes tried to pass a vehicle shortly before the collision occurred.
“The merge lane came to an end and he was trying to pass another vehicle on the far left, and he couldn’t do that, so he veered all the way to the right, onto the shoulder,” De Lima said.
“… What did you see next?” asked Deputy Prosecutor Kevin Hashizaki.
“It looked like he was losing control of the vehicle because it was going too fast,” she said. “There was no brake light. He pulled over to the left, then to the right, and then he crossed the grassy median and the truck went airborne.”
De Lima said that she pulled over and when she next saw the truck, it was “in the bushes.” She said a man she identified as Aholelei was in the driver’s seat.
She said that the driver of the other truck, a woman, “proceeded to go on her merry way.”
Charlene Milazzo testified that she was driving from Mountain View toward Hilo and saw what she first thought was a young boy riding a bicycle toward Hilo on the paved shoulder of the road.
She said she then looked toward the oncoming lanes and “saw the truck coming really fast.”
“It was, like, the front of the truck went over the median and he was, like, flying in front of us,” Milazzo said and broke into tears. “I saw him run over the man. I put on my brake. I jumped out of the car and saw that it wasn’t a little boy at all. It was an older man.”
Aholelei, who appeared in court with Honolulu attorney Peter Hsieh, didn’t testify, and the defense called no witnesses.
Aholelei had been free on $25,000 bail after a paperwork mix-up on the manslaughter charge on Monday caused Hilo District Judge Barbara Takase to revoke $250,000 bail on that charge.
Freitas reinstated the $250,000 bail on the manslaughter charge, and Aholelei was taken into custody following Tuesday afternoon’s proceedings.
Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune- herald.com.
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