Police: Man who stole truck, killed woman in head-on crash had prior criminal history

Man accused of killing Kauai woman in head-on crash has extensive criminal record
Published: Apr. 29, 2017 at 5:23 PM HST|Updated: May. 1, 2017 at 10:52 PM HST
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Kayla Hudd-Lemn (Image: Wailana Varney, GoFundMe)
Kayla Hudd-Lemn (Image: Wailana Varney, GoFundMe)

KAPAA, KAUAI (HawaiiNewsNow) - The man accused of stealing a truck then plowing it head-on into a car, killing a 19-year-old woman, appeared in court Monday.

Kauai police have charged Cody Safadago, 46, with first-degree negligent homicide, auto theft, driving drunk, reckless and without a license, inattention to driving, resisting arrest and failing to render aid.

Police say moments before the crash, about 10:45 p.m. Thursday, Safadago stole a truck and was attempting to flee on Kuhio Highway in Kapaa.

Instead, he collided head-on with a vehicle driven by Kayla Huddy-Lemn,

"The investigators at the scene reported he smelled like alcohol and appeared to be under the influence of alcohol," said Justin Kollar, Kauai County's prosecuting attorney.

Police say Safadago fled the scene on foot, but was later caught and arrested near Wailua Shopping Center after a brief struggle with officers.

Huddy-Lemn was taken to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Her cousin tells Hawaii News Now she was heading home from work.

"He ended the life of somebody who didn't even get to live," said Wailana Varney.

Police say Safadago is originally from Washington state and had no local Hawaii address. Hawaii criminal records show he was convicted for second-degree theft in 2012 and sentenced to six months in prison with five years of probation.

Safadago was recently released from jail after posting bail for assaulting an officer, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.

"As we piece together his criminal background from the mainland, it appears he may have been recently in trouble with other places on the mainland," said Kollar.

A Belize newspaper reported Safadago illegally entered the country in 2014 and was wanted for parole violations.

He was arrested and handed over to U.S. Marshals for return to the U.S.

"We haven't been able to confirm that, but we don't have any reason to doubt it either," said Kollar.

Huddy-Lemn's loved ones want justice as they try to keep her memory alive.

"She just had the sweetest heart and we're really hurting," said Varney. "We want him to be put away for life so he can't do this to any other person who means the world to them like she meant to us and our family."

Safadago's bail was originally set at $35,000. It has since been raised to $1 million due to his prior criminal history and his potential as a flight risk, according to Kollar.

The crash remains under investigation.

Safadago is being held at Kauai Community Correctional Center and has a preliminary hearing set for Wednesday at 1 p.m.

The family of the victim has set up a GoFundMe page to help offset funeral costs.

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