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Bicycle Rider Killed on Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway

A 42-year-old Kona man died in a vehicle-bicycle crash Saturday afternoon (January 21) in Kona near the 98-mile marker of Queen Kaʻahumanu Highway.

He has been identified as Richard Topenio 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 Queen Kaʻahumanu Highway when it veered onto the shoulder of the roadway and collided with Topenio, who was riding his bicycle southbound on the shoulder of the highway. Topenio sustained critical injuries from the collision 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 compared with none at this time last year.

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