KPD traffic investigator testifies during Safadago hearing

LIHUE — The man who police say caused a fatal wreck on Kuhio Highway last week was driving at least 88 mph in a 35 mph zone, according to Shawn Hanna, a traffic investigator for the Kauai Police Department.

On Wednesday, Hanna was called to take the witness stand to testify during a preliminary hearing for Cody Safadago, who is charged with eight counts in connection to the death 19-year-old Kayla Huddy-Lemn.

Safadago, 46, appeared before District Court Judge Michael Soong on negligent homicide, unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle, driving under the influence of an intoxicant, driving without a valid driver’s license, reckless driving, inattention to driving, resisting arrest and accident involving a death or serious injury charges.

On April 27, at about 10:45 p.m., Huddy-Lemn, who was wearing her seat belt, was heading north on Kuhio Highway near the Courtyards at Waipouli when an oncoming Nissan pickup truck crossed the center line and struck her Mazda sedan.

Police said the Nissan was stolen from a home on Makaha Road in Kapaa moments before Huddy-Lemn was taken to Wilcox Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

During Wednesday’s hearing, Hanna, who was on duty that night and responded to the wreck, said she appeared to be dead at the scene.

“Her eyes were wide open and dilated. She was unresponsive,” he said.

An autopsy later revealed that her cause of death was due to blunt force trauma to her chest, Hanna added.

“She had a laceration on her heart,” he said.

Hanna said he was called to the scene to help another officer, Michael Buratti, find Safadago, who fled on foot.

A six-page complaint states that Safadago used force against Buratti, while Buratti was trying to take him into custody.

Safadago, who is originally from Washington state, and is now believed to live in the Kalalau Valley, was found near the Wailua Shopping Plaza.

“I saw Officer Buratti pinning him to the ground near the intersection of Haleilo Road. He was telling the subject not to fight,” Hanna said.

He said Safadago looked unkempt and was wearing dirty clothes. He also said he smelled like alcohol.

“I helped cuff him, so I was pretty close to him,” Hanna said.

Safadago was later taken to Wilcox Hospital to be treated for non-life threatening injuries. While he was there, Hanna ordered a blood sample be taken.

He had a blood-alcohol content of .248 (three times the legal limit), Hanna said.

Safadago was arrested on April 28 and remains at Kauai Community Correctional Center on a $1 million bail.

While he was being questioned, Safadago said he had been at “Lihi Boat Lodge” and left because he had been assaulted, Hanna said.

“He didn’t admit to stealing a vehicle, and he said he doesn’t remember the wreck because was too drunk and blacked out. He said he swerved, but there’s no accounts of the collision,” he said.

Three witnesses were scheduled to be called to the stand Wednesday, as Hanna’s testimony went over the hour-long allotment and was continued.

Safadago will be back in court on May 18 to continue the hearing.

A GoFundMe account called “Justice for Kayla” has been set up to help her family with funeral costs.

“She was only 19-years-old and just about to turn 20 in June. She was a beloved granddaughter, daughter, sister, cousin, and friend and touched our lives,” the page said. “She was an intelligent, respectful young woman with so much to see in her life.”

As of Wednesday, the page raised $3,940 of the $5,000 goal.

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