Crash devastates well-known Hilo family - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Crash devastates well-known Hilo family

BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - 35 people have been killed in crashes on the Big Island this year. The figure is more than double the number of fatal accidents compared to this time in 2011. The latest wreck involves three generations of a well-known Hilo family.

Friends said Miles Nakanishi, 61, and his family were heading home after visiting a pumpkin patch. According to police, a red truck driven by a 65-year-old Hakalau man crossed the center line and slammed into the Cadillac Escalade being driven by Nakanishi. The collision happened on the Hanawi Bridge along Hawaii Belt Road near Onomea.

"The last words she heard from her husband was, 'What is this guy doing?' And all of a sudden she heard just this big crash and her grandchildren started screaming and yelling, and her mom was calling for her for help," said Kimiko Schilling, an employee at Uncle Miles Catering.

Nakanishi and the other driver died at the scene. Medics transported two grandchildren, a 6-year-old boy and an 11-year-old girl, to hospitals on Oahu in critical condition. Nakanishi's 80-year-old mother-in-law and 60-year-old wife, Denise, suffered serious injuries. His wife is a successful realtor who earned the nickname "Major Mom" since she served as a major in the military. He ran a snack shop in the Hilo Airport and owned a business called Uncle Miles Catering. Nakanishi also used to work at Hilo High School.

"I miss everything about him. He was like a father to me. He always lectured me, but that's life, you know," said Schilling.

Another crash on Saturday in Honaunau killed Bryan Hanato, 55, of Kealakekua. It is unknown if alcohol or drugs were involved in either tragedy. The death toll on Big Island roads now stands at 35 this year, compared to 16 at the same time in 2011.

"Some years we have seen over 40 traffic fatalities in a 12 month period, and yet, last year, a low number of 16. Again, it would be almost impossible to guess why this is happening," said assistant chief Henry Tavares of the Hawaii Police Department.

Starting last month, police stepped up enforcement due to the spike in fatalities. More patrol officers are now looking for DUI, seat belt, and distracted driving violations.

"What we have done, again, is try to increase our presence out in the community. We believe that the more officers that are visible, it'll just encourage people to drive a little more carefully," said Tavares.

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