October 18, 2010 – Milolii, Hawaii
By Stephanie Salazar
A Kona man was killed yesterday when his pickup truck crashed head-on into a tour bus near Milolii on the Big Island of Hawaii on Sunday morning.
Police identified the man killed as 46-year old Bud M. Wheeler of Captain Cook.
According to police, Wheeler was driving a Toyota pickup truck north on Hawaii Belt Road around 9am near the 89 milemarker, when he tried to overtake another vehicle in a no passing zone. The truck crashed head on into a Polynesian Adventure tour bus that was coming around the corner.
Wheeler died from his injuries, and the 52-year-old bus driver and 10 passengers were transported to Kona Community Hospital by Fire Rescue personnel. All were treated and released with minor injuries.
The Hawaii County Police Department issued this media release on Monday:
A 46-year-old Captain Cook man died Sunday (October 17) from injuries he received in a motor vehicle/bus crash on Hawai’i Belt Road (Route 11), 434 feet south of Miloli’i Junction in South Kona.
The victim was identified as Bud M. Wheeler of a Captain Cook address.
Responding to a 9:01 a.m. call, Kona patrol officers determined that Wheeler was operating a 2006 Toyota pickup truck and traveling north on Route 11 when he overtook another vehicle in a no-passing zone and collided head-on into a 2005 Van Hool tour bus traveling south.
The bus driver, a 52-year-old Kailua-Kona man, and 10 passengers on the bus were transported to Kona Community Hospital by Fire Rescue personnel. All were treated and released with minor injuries.
Wheeler was taken to Kona Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 1:45 p.m.
It is unknown at this time if speed, alcohol or drugs were involved in this case.
The bus driver was wearing his seat belt. It is unknown at this time if the driver of the truck was wearing his due to the severe damages.
Traffic Enforcement Unit officers have initiated a negligent homicide investigation and have ordered an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.
Police ask that anyone who may have witnessed the crash or who saw the Toyota pickup prior to the crash call Officer Larry Flowers at 326-4646, extension 229.
This is the 23rd traffic fatality on the Big Island this year compared with 19 at this time last year.
The highway was closed after the crash and fully reopened to traffic by 3pm