Thursday | December 14, 2017
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Latino community mourns: 2 of 3 killed in crash were friends, co-workers

KAILUA-KONA — Friends, family and community members are mourning the loss of two men after they succumbed to injuries they suffered in a two-vehicle crash that resulted in three people dead and a woman critically injured early Wednesday morning.

“The Big Island Latino community is in shock,” said Angela Dean with Comunidad Latina De Hawaii. “Our Latino community is already closely knit, but this tragedy has further united the community.”

Police have not officially identified the victims. However, with permission from family, two men involved in the fiery crash were identified by Dean as Hector Vargas Vigil and Ocdulio Garcia Orellana.

The third victim hadn’t been identified by press time Wednesday night.

The collision occurred at 6:26 a.m. about 1 mile north of Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport on Queen Kaahumanu Highway in Kailua-Kona.

Hawaii police reported that a Toyota 4Runner occupied by two men traveling north collided with a Nissan Titan, occupied by a man and woman traveling south.

Both vehicles subsequently burst into flames. All that remained was torched and mangled wreckage, which caused a nearly six-hour road closure and delays for most of the morning throughout West Hawaii.

Police say the driver of the 4Runner was passing several vehicles on the highway.

“As he completed his pass the operator lost control of his vehicle, which caused it to veer into the oncoming lane where it was then involved in a broadside collision with a 2008 Nissan Titan operated by a 37-year-old Kamuela man,” police said.

An off-duty police officer driving to work and another motorist stopped and were able to pull the woman from the truck, police said.

All four crash victims were transported to Kona Community Hospital, where the three men were pronounced dead. The woman was in critical condition as of press time Wednesday.

Police think speed was a factor in the crash, but it is not immediately known if alcohol was involved.

It marked the third, fourth and fifth traffic fatalities on Hawaii Island roads since Sunday, when two men died in separate crashes. One occurred at the junction of Saddle Road and Mamalahoa Highway in West Hawaii and another in Keaau.

Dean said Orellana and Vigil were friends and co-workers who carpooled to work every day.

Dean said the two men were neighbors in Guatemala and moved to the United States together. They lived in Hawaii for three years. She added they were both humble, friendly, hardworking, positive and each had a great sense of humor.

“They were both very well-liked by many,” she said. “They both had goals in which they wanted to accomplish.”

Dean said there has been an outpouring of concern and increased communication from extended family and friends between community members.

“There is a lot of chatter within the community right now — everyone is trying to console and support one another,” Dean said.

Since the men’s families are still in Guatemala, Dean said community members on the Big Island have expressed interest in helping them with costs to send their remains back to their country.

Dean said Comunidad Latina De Hawaii also is providing assistance in organizing memorial services locally and social support for the few family members of the two men who live on the island.

Anyone who wants to assist the families monetarily can call Dean at 895-2052. Once fundraising and bank accounts are set up, they will be shared on social media.

Email Tiffany DeMasters at


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