Hawaii Island police have opened a negligent homicide investigation after a 16-year-old Pahala girl died in a single-vehicle crash Wednesday night.
She was identified as Leiani Camba-Penera.
Responding to a 9:21 p.m. call, police determined that a 1994 Toyota pickup truck operated by an 18-year-old Naalehu man was traveling south on Route 11, about a mile south of the 41-mile marker in Pahala.
He reportedly fell asleep, ran off the right shoulder and struck a utility pole.
Camba-Penera, who was not wearing a seat belt, was ejected from the vehicle. She was taken to Hilo Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead at 4:10 a.m. Thursday. An autopsy has been ordered to determine the exact cause of death.
The driver was taken to Hilo Medical Center for treatment of his injuries.
Police believe that speed and drugs may have contributed to this traffic fatality.
Police ask anyone who witnessed the crash to call Officer Kimo Keliipaakaua at 326-4646, Ext. 299. Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300.
This is the first traffic fatality this year compared with two at this time last year.