Accident in Kailua-Kona leaves bicyclist dead

A bicyclist died from injuries sustained in a crash Saturday afternoon in Kona near the 98-mile marker of Queen Kaʻahumanu Highway.

He has been identified as Richard Topenio, 42, of Kailua-Kona.

Responding to a 1:53 p.m. call, police determined that a red 2011 Ford pickup truck had been traveling south on the highway when it veered onto the shoulder of the roadway and crashed into Topenio’s bicycle that was traveling southbound on the shoulder of the highway.

Topenio sustained critical injuries from the crash and was taken to Kona Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 4:25 p.m. Saturday.

The operator of the truck, 60-year-old Jeffrey Pelham of Kamuela, was arrested on suspicion of negligent homicide and operating a vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicant. He was later released pending further investigation.

It is not immediately known if speed was a factor in the crash.

Traffic Enforcement Unit officers have initiated a negligent homicide investigation and have ordered an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.

Police ask anyone who witnessed the crash to call Officer Kimo Keliipaakaua at 326-4646, extension 229. Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo.

This is the third traffic fatality this year on Hawaii Island, compared with none at this time last year.

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