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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, April 30, 2009

TRAGEDY IN WAIMANALO
Woman hit, killed by tour bus

By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Firefighters yesterday worked to free the body of a Waimanalo woman from beneath a tour bus after she was struck by the vehicle on Kalaniana'ole Highway. Ilima Cook, 44, died at the scene.

BRUCE ASATO | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Ilima Cook

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WAIMANALO A woman who was a familiar face in the Waimanalo community was killed yesterday when she stepped into the path of a tour bus on Kalaniana'ole Highway.

Neighbors and residents identified the woman as Ilima Cook, 44. She lived very close to the accident scene, they said.

Police said Cook was standing on the side of Kalaniana'ole near 'Ehukai Street about 9:30 a.m. and made eye contact with the driver of an E Noa Tours minibus. Cook stepped out onto the road, pulled back and stepped out again, police said.

"When the bus approached her location, she suddenly stepped into the path of the bus and was struck," police Maj. Clayton Kau said. Cook was pinned under the bus and pronounced dead at the scene.

The bus was traveling toward Kailua on Kalaniana'ole Highway. The accident happened near the Naturally Hawaiian Gallery & Gifts store. Cook was not in a crosswalk, police said.

Police closed the highway between 'Ehukai and 'Alo'ilo'i streets for about four hours as they investigated.

Dozens of people gathered at the gallery and at Mel's Market, where Cook frequented. Several people identified her, saying everyone in Waimanalo knew the woman who hung out at the bus stop and stores nearby.

"Ilima was a real recognizable person in the community," said Patrick Ching, owner of Naturally Hawaiian and Cook's neighbor. "She was always out there. ... If you do actually go and talk to her, she's going to have a nice conversation with you."

Several days ago, Cook told Ching it was her birthday, so he gave her some money and a birthday kiss, he said. A few years ago on her birthday he gave her a lei and took her photograph, Ching said.

"She really loved this little piece of property even before I moved in," Ching said. "She was here every day sitting down even before I leased the place."

Joe Crocco, safety manager foe E Noa Tours, said he couldn't comment about the accident because the investigation is ongoing, but he expressed condolences.

"We feel for them that they lost one of their family members," Crocco said.

Wilson Ho, the Waimanalo Neighborhood Board chairman, said Cook was well-known by sight and apparently had no job because she would hang out every day, but said she was not homeless. She was nicely dressed and didn't appear to be in any distress, Ho said.

"You don't like to see this happen to the unfortunate," Ho said.

Reach Eloise Aguiar at eaguiar@honoluluadvertiser.com.