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Traffic fatality another death for Big Island family

By Paul Drewes
Published On: Sep 30 2013 11:02:20 PM HST
Updated On: Oct 01 2013 06:40:05 AM HST

The Visaya family on the Big Island has been hit by tragedy twice in consecutive years.

HONOLULU -

Friday's deadly bicycle accident is the second traffic fatality for a stunned Big Island family.
The case also includes a first for Hawaii County as prosecutors get tough on dangerous drivers.

Like lightning striking twice, the Visaya family has been struck twice by traffic fatalities.

Last September, Josefina Visaya was a passenger in a van that police say was hit and run off the road by a driver believed to have been drunk and speeding.

On Friday, Josefina's husband Cenon was struck and killed while riding his bicycle along Highway 11.

Their son, one of three grieving children, said the family is having a hard time coping with the loss of their father so soon after their mother's death.

"It is sad. I can't think right now, because I don't know what happened. The same thing happened again. Now, I lost my both of my parents," said Fred Visaya.

Police believe Siaku Aholelei was speeding along the divided highway when he lost control of his pickup truck, crossed over the grassy median and slammed into Visaya, who was on the shoulder of the road.

Aholelei has been charged with manslaughter.

"Manslaughter is rarely charged, but we do charge it when the driver is driving in a reckless manner," said Hawaii County Prosecutor Mitch Roth.

Aholelei made his initial appearance in court Monday. He has also been charged with negligent homicide of a vulnerable user. A new law raised the offense to a felony for drivers that injure pedestrians, cyclists or anyone legally allowed to be on our streets.

It also a guarantees a person convicted of the charge will face prison term and fines.

This is the first time the new law is being used on the Big Island.

Roth said it is another tool in their crack down on reckless drivers, an effort his office started by charging suspects right away.

"We were noticing suspects in these negligent homicide cases were taking a year to get charged. We decided to take a more aggressive approach - charging these cases at the time of the offense, when we have the evidence to do so," said Roth.

Because of a problem with paperwork in court Monday, bail was not set for Aholelei's manslaughter charge. He was later released on his own recognizance.
He will be back in court tomorrow afternoon for his preliminary hearing, where prosecutors will file a bail requirement of $250,000.

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