Woman indicted in fatal wreck


By JOHN BURNETT

Tribune-Herald staff writer

A 21-year-old former Hilo woman has been charged with negligent homicide for a July 2012 traffic collision in North Kona that killed a passenger in her car.

Tiana Sagapolutele-Silva of Kaneohe, Oahu, was indicted by a grand jury last week for the two-car crash that caused the death of Christine C.R. Laeda of Hilo and injured three other passengers in her car. The four-count indictment charges Sagapolutele-Silva with first-degree negligent homicide and three counts of third-degree assault.

Police say that just before midnight on July 19, 2012, Sagapolutele-Silva was driving a 2005 Toyota four-door sedan south on Queen Ka‘ahumanu Highway near the 91-mile marker when she attempted to pass a 2006 Chrysler four-door sedan and struck the Chrysler’s left rear corner.

The Toyota went out of control, ran off the right side of the highway and overturned. Laeda, a back seat passenger in the Toyota who wasn’t wearing a seat belt, was ejected from the car. She was pronounced dead less than three hours later at Kona Community Hospital.

Sagapolutele-Silva and her three other passengers, a 19-year-old Hilo woman and two Keaau women, ages 22 and 20, were treated for minor injuries at Kona Community Hospital and released. The driver of the Chrysler, a 37-year-old California man, and his two women passengers, ages 36 and 27, weren’t injured.

Police said at the time they believed that speed and alcohol were factors in the collision.

Sagapolutele-Silva was arrested at the time on suspicion of negligent homicide, DUI, open container of alcohol, underage drinking and negligent injury. Of those potential charges, only the negligent homicide charge was filed.

A bench warrant set Sagapolutele-Silva’s bail at $7,500. She was ordered not to contact any of the crash victims or Laeda’s family. The bench warrant also stipulated random testing for drugs and alcohol and ordered Sagapolutele-Silva not to drive “unless properly licensed and insured.”

Sagapolutele-Silva turned herself in on Tuesday at the Kona police station and was released after posting bail. According to a police log, she’s to be arraigned today before Hilo Circuit Judge Glenn Hara, although the case is to be ultimately heard by Kona Circuit Judge Ronald Ibarra.

First-degree negligent homicide is a Class B felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Third-degree assault is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum one-year jail sentence.

 

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