Police: Longtime MPD secretary dies after crashing into tree while chasing purse snatcher

A 55-year-old Maui driver died early Thursday morning after crashing into a tree while attempting to pursue a suspect who stole her pursue, police said.
Published: Feb. 24, 2022 at 2:48 PM HST|Updated: Feb. 24, 2022 at 10:23 PM HST
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WAILUKU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A 55-year-old Maui driver died early Thursday after crashing into a tree while attempting to pursue a suspect who stole her pursue, police said.

The alleged purse snatcher is being sought.

In a news conference Thursday, Maui Police Chief John Pelletier identified the woman who died as a longtime MPD secretary ― Terry Jones, of Makawao.

“We take this loss very personal. This did not need to happen. Terry is a victim,” he said.

To the suspect, the chief added, “I would encourage you to turn yourself in.”

Terry’s daughter said the family is in disbelief.

“This was supposed to be just another Thursday,” Stacy Yagi said. “There are no words for how we are feeling.”

“It doesn’t feel real,” said Terry’s son Calin Yagi. “It feels like a dream ... or a nightmare. I can’t believe it.”

The crash happened about 4:40 a.m. on Kula Highway at the intersection with Haleakala Highway.

Maui police said Jones, driving a 2018 Honda Pilot, was trying to make a right turn onto Haleakala Highway when she lost control.

She died at the scene.

Terry Jones' children say she was dedicated to her job and was probably trying to help investigators.

“She liked helping other people. She worked for the Maui Police Department ... she enjoyed working with them, being able to help the community, even the police officers themselves when they needed help. She’s going to be missed,” said Jones’ brother Paul.

Jones helped organize the D.A.R.E. programs, Special Olympics, Relay For Life, and several other events throughout the community.

Jones’ sister-in-law said she will be sorely missed.

“Her laugh, her big smile, never complaining, always saying, ‘Let’s do it!’” said Bernadette Lentini-Jones.

Former Maui Police Chief Tom Phillips said Jones was a hard worker and was very humble.

“It’s a tremendous loss for the department and for our community and we will sure miss her,” Phillips said.

Sgt. Nicholas Krau, SHOPO Board of Directors Maui Chapter Chair, said officers are devastated.

“No matter an officer’s rank, she always greeted us with a smile, asked about our families and saw to it that we always had the support we needed. Terry didn’t seek the spotlight, but she was the quiet force behind coordinating events like the Law Enforcement Torch Run for the Special Olympics and other charitable initiatives. I personally worked with Terry for over 20 years. The Department just won’t be the same without seeing Terry at her desk, armed with a smile and care. We will miss her greatly,” Krau said.

It’s unclear if Jones was speeding before the crash. Police said Jones was not properly wearing her seatbelt at the time of the crash. Her vehicle’s airbags did deploy. Police said alcohol and drugs were not involved.

A fundraiser has been set up for those who would like to help the family with funeral expenses.

Anyone with information about the purse snatcher is asked to contact the Maui Police Department at (808) 244-6400.

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