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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Tuesday, February 5, 2002

Another officer fatally strikes Big Isle pedestrian

By Hugh Clark
Advertiser Big Island Bureau

HILO, Hawai'i — An off-duty Big Island police sergeant struck and killed a Puna man early yesterday — the second such Big Island pedestrian death in two months.

Police said Sgt. James Gusman, 33, driving a 1995 Isuzu Rodeo, was driving to his Hilo home from Ka'u when he struck Kamekona Cummings, 33, of Hawaiian Acres subdivision at 12:24 a.m. near the intersection of the Belt Road with Kuauli Road in mauka Puna.

Gusman used his police radio to report the accident. Police in the special Traffic Enforcement Unit are conducting a negligent homicide investigation.

Sgt. Samuel Jelsma said Cummings died at Hilo Medical Center at 5:14 a.m.

The death came two weeks after Hawai'i County learned that its police force would lose its no-fault insurance because of a high accident rate. That policy expires March 1 and the county is searching for a replacement policy — expected to cost many times the $428,000 annual premium for the policy being dropped by TIG Crum and Forster Inc.

That policy is still in effect and will cover any losses stemming from the death of Cummings.

The county is legally barred from becoming self-insured.

Jelsma said that Cummings had been at a concert in Hilo earlier in the evening, and friends had dropped him off at the Kurtistown Assembly of God Church.

Cummings was wearing a camouflage long-sleeve shirt and black shorts and was not in a crosswalk when Gusman's car hit him, police said.

Jelsma asked that anyone who had spent time with Cummings that evening to call officer Robert Hatton at (808) 961-2322.

Maj. Charles Chai said Gusman, a six-year police veteran, is on paid leave.

On Dec. 2, Gabina Makil, 66, of Captain Cook, was fatally injured when she was hit by a police car as she crossed Mamalahoa Highway fronting the Central Kona Union Church in Kealakekua. Kona patrolman Calvin Sasaki, 51, has returned to duty, but the case is under investigation.