Fatal accident victim named

LIHU‘E — A 49-year-old Hanama‘ulu woman has been identified as a victim of a traffic crash on Kaumuali‘i Highway near Knudsen Gap, east of the Maluhia Road junction last Thursday.

Eugenia Villanueva was a rear passenger in a Nissan sedan traveling eastbound when a Toyota Tacoma going west crossed into the eastbound lane, according to a Kaua‘i Police Department statement.

A 71-year-old male resident, a rear passenger of the sedan, suffered serious life-threatening injuries and was medevaced to Queen’s Medical Center on O‘ahu, according to KPD. He remains in critical condition as of Monday afternoon.

The crash involved immediate family members of American Medical Response Kaua‘i Operations Manager Tito Villanueva.

Monday, Mayor Derek Kawamai publicly expressed his condolences to the family.

“As our AMR manager, Tito has dedicated his career to responding to our residents and visitors in their time of critical need,” Kawakami said. “Tito, you are always there for us, we are always here for you. We love you. Our hearts and prayers are with you and the family. We are here for you.”

According to KPD’s preliminary report, around 4 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 24, the 2011 Toyota truck was traveling westbound when it veered onto the shoulder before crossing back onto the westbound lane and then into the eastbound lane of Kaumali‘i Highway, hitting the oncoming sedan.

The front passenger of the Nissan sedan, a 19-year-old female of Hanama‘ulu, suffered serious injuries and was admitted to Wilcox Memorial Center. She is currently in stable condition. The driver of the Nissan sedan was treated and released.

The driver of the Toyota truck, a 31-year-old Lawa‘i man, was transported to Wilcox with minor injuries and subsequently released.

KPD, along with Kaua‘i Fire Department stations 4 and 5, Rescue 3 and four ambulance units responded to the scene which closed the highway in both directions for about four hours on Thursday.

Kawakami urged community members and visitors to slow down.

“There is no place on this island with one road that you will get to any faster or sooner by rushing or driving irresponsibly,” Kawakami said. “This is a good reminder for all of us that during this holiday season we should be taking care of one another and caring for other people’s safety.

“Our actions are something we can control and we should be mindful of that.”

Toxicology results are pending to determine if alcohol and/or drugs were a factor. KPD’s Traffic Safety Section continues its investigation. Witnesses are asked to contact KPD Officer Isaiah Sarsona of the Traffic Safety Section at 241-1618.

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