Lawsuit filed in fatal traffic crash

The daughter of a bicyclist who was killed when struck by a car in Hilo almost two years ago filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver.

Attorney Robert Marx filed the civil suit Thursday in Hilo Circuit Court on behalf of Noel Gerulat, a Utah woman and the daughter of Jerry Lee Wiseman, a 70-year-old Pepeekeo man who died as a result of the crash on Dec. 6, 2017. The defendant is Dylen J. Benevides. Also named are numerous “Doe” defendants.

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The suit seeks unspecified monetary damages for pain and suffering and emotional distress, special damages for funeral expenses, medical costs and economic loss, plus attorneys’ fees and costs.

Police say Benevides, then 26, was driving a 2018 Nissan sedan north on Hawaii Belt Road (Highway 19), on the northern outskirts of Hilo near the Wainaku Executive Center shortly before 6 a.m. when the car struck Wiseman, who was riding north on the highway’s shoulder.

Police arrested Benevides on suspicion of negligent homicide but, to date, no charges have been filed. At the time, police said they thought speed was a factor in the crash but didn’t know if intoxication was a factor.

Benevides reportedly complained about neck pain and was taken by ambulance to Hilo Medical Center, where he was treated and released.

Police closed the Hamakua-bound lanes of Highway 19 for several hours while they investigated the collision and diverted traffic to Wainaku Avenue via Hau Lane.

The suit claims Benevides “suddenly and without warning … failed to yield the right of way” to Wiseman and “ran off the roadway, striking the decedent.”

The complaint alleges Benevides’ negligence caused Wiseman, who was dead at the scene, “immense physical pain and suffering (and) mental shock and anguish … .”

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A check of court records shows no criminal record for Benevides, but he was cited Feb. 28, 2011, for driving 48 mph in a 35 mph zone. He paid a $122 fine for the speeding ticket.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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