Big Island police say the driver of a 1993 Nissan pickup truck had a suspended license and was drunk when he forced a 2005 Ford van off Hawaii Belt Road Monday, killing two women and injuring seven others, three of them critically.
The driver of the van, a 45-year-old man from Kea’au, was traveling east bound and carrying eight passengers at the time of the collision near mile marker 19. The two-vehicle crash happened at 4:24 p.m. on the upper Hamakua Coast when the driver of the pickup overtook the van.
“The driver came back into the Hilo bound lane and collided with the van, forcing the van off the road,” said Sgt. Christopher Gali, head of the Hawaii County Police Department’s Traffic Enforcement Unit.
The two women were killed after the van careened into a deep gully to the side of the two-lane road. Killed in the crash were Josefina Visaya, 61, of Kea’au, and Patrocinia Cadang, 54, also of Kea’au.
Another three women, all 46-years-old, were critically injured. One woman was flown to the Queen’s Medical Center for treatment. The two remaining women were taken to the Hilo Medical Center and North Hawaii Community Hospital on the Big Island.
A 23-year-old man and a 23-year-old woman, also passengers in the van, were treated and released from the Hilo Medical Center. Both are also from Kea’au.
Police said the driver of the pickup, 30-year-old Alfred Berdon III of Honoka’a, was not seriously injured. He was taken into custody at the scene of the deadly collision.
Berdon was arrested on two counts of negligent homicide, four counts of negligent injury, operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant, driving with a suspended or revoked license, and failure to obtain no fault insurance. He was also arrested for an outstanding bench warrant.
According to court documents, Berdon was convicted of drunken driving Aug. 7 after being pulled over by Big Island police last November. Berdon had a blood alcohol content of .188, or more than twice the legal limit. He received 36 hours of community service, and had his driver’s license suspended for 12 months.
Just last Tuesday, a bench warrant was issued for Berdon’s arrest after he failed to appear for hearing to determine if he had installed an ignition interlock device on his vehicle. In Hawaii, such devices prevent a car from starting if the driver’s blood alcohol content is above .02 percent.