Friday | November 17, 2017
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Police ID woman killed in Honomu crash

Police identified the woman killed in a fiery traffic collision Saturday afternoon in Honomu as 21-year-old Sarah Akiona of Honokaa.

According to police, Akiona was the front-seat passenger in a Waimea-bound Honda Pilot SUV that collided head on with a Hilo-bound Hawaii Gas propane tanker truck shortly before 2 p.m. on Highway 19, just north of Honomu Road.

Akiona died at the scene of head injuries.

The driver of the Honda, 23-year-old Kodi-Dean Springer of Waimea, was uninjured and refused medical treatment. Also uninjured was a 3-year-old girl who was secured in a child-restraint seat.

The tanker driver, who was not identified, was able to get out of the tanker, which overturned, leaked liquid propane from its tank and ignited. He was taken to Hilo Medical Center for treatment of apparent head injuries. His condition is unknown.

Springer reportedly told officers the tanker crossed into his lane as he entered a curve. The document states Springer said he swerved to the left in an unsuccessful attempt to avoid a collision.

According to a Hawaii Fire Department statement, the tanker was carrying about 1,750 gallons of liquid propane. Because of the large volume of the highly flammable fuel, it was decided by firefighters and Hawaii Gas that the safest course of action was to allow the propane to burn. Firefighters remained on scene for almost 40 hours, cooling the tanker by continuously spraying it with water.

The fire was finally brought under control by 3 p.m. Sunday and extinguished by 5:20 a.m. Monday. Personnel from Hawaii Gas and a Fire Department Hazmat company assisted.

The Fire Department turned the accident scene over the Hawaii Police Department at 8 a.m. Monday. The tanker was removed from the scene and the highway reopened Monday morning.

Police have opened a negligent homicide investigation.

Hawaii Gas released a statement Monday and said the company “is partnering closely with the police and fire departments to complete their investigation as well as conducting an investigation of our own.”

“We are saddened by the loss of life and our hearts go out to those affected by this tragic accident,” said Hawaii Gas spokesman Alan Tang.

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