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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 11:14 a.m., Tuesday, April 9, 2002

Police Beat

Advertiser Staff

Kailua-Kona man dies in van crash

A 37-year-old Kailua-Kona man died today after losing control of his van while coming down a steep roadway last night in the Kalaoa area of Kailua.

The accident happened at 8:29 p.m. near 73-1062 Ahikawa St. Police said the 1992 Chevy van the victim was driving was headed downhill in the westbound lane of Ahikawa when it ran off the right shoulder.

Police said the van then may have blown a tire, veered back onto the road, crossed the center line and then ran off the left shoulder. Witnesses said it then hit two parked cars, uprooted several palm trees, flipped and landed upright in a residential lot.

The man was taken to Kona Community Hospital, where he died at 1:01 a.m. His name is being withheld pending notification of family members.

Police suspect that alcohol was a factor in the accident.

Missing hula dancer turns up

The California hula dancer feared missing after the Merrie Monarch Festival competition ended last weekend in Hilo has turned up unharmed and is en route home, police said.

The 16-year-old girl from Torrance, Calif., was reported missing on Sunday by her parents, who hadn't seen her since the final performance Saturday night of her hula troupe, Halau Hula O Lilinoe. The group was one of two from California entered in the annual hula competition.

Police said she was located at the Hilo Airport at about 12:50 p.m. yesterday, adding that the girl apparently had gone sightseeing with halau members without telling her parents.

Police warn of mail thefts

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Honolulu police CrimeStoppers program are warning residents about a rash of thefts from mailboxes at various O'ahu locations.

Reports of thefts have come in from several communities, and two 19-year-old men were arrested in connection with cases in Kapolei, police said.

The men, Justin Knutson and John Tharp, have been charged with mail theft, a felony offense, in federal court, said police Detective Letha DeCaires.

Other communities that have been hit include Kailua, Makakilo 'Ewa Beach, Pacific Palisades and Hawai'i Kai, she said.

Police want to alert both people who commit the crimes about the gravity of the federal offense and victims of the potential damage, DeCaires said. The penalty is up to five years in jail for each piece of mail taken, she said, and victims can lose a lot more than cash tucked into an envelope.

"I think kids do this as a lark," DeCaires said. "People don't realize how serious this is.

"Cash is a target, and checks, and if you lose credit card information, you leave yourselves wide open for identity theft."

Authorities urge the public to deposit mail containing money, checks or personal information in a postal collection box, at the post office or in the hands of a carrier. It's also wise to remove mail from residential boxes as soon after delivery as possible.

Mail thefts should be reported to the inspection service at 432-3790.

Road closed after pedestrian killed

KEA'AU, Hawai'i An accident that killed a pedestrian early today caused a huge traffic jam for Puna residents going to work in Hilo.

The state's Highway 130, Kea'au-Pahoa Road, was blocked near the Hawaiian Humane Society animal shelter east of Kea'au for nearly 4 hours. The road was reopened about 8:20 a.m.

Police said by 6 a.m., drivers were growing impatient over the delay that caused some not only to be late to work but to miss interisland flights to Honolulu. "They were ragging our guys pretty hard," said a Puna policeman.