Friday | December 15, 2017
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Community grieves for Waimea man killed in crash

WAIMEA —The Waimea community was still in shock, Thursday, after a two-vehicle crash on Queen Kaahumanu Highway took the life of one of their own and severely injured another Wednesday.

A fellow church member identified the victims as Hailame Timakoi Lavaka and his wife, Alana, who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Police have not yet officially released their names.

Fellow church members Vaitaki Aholelei and his wife, Salote, said they were both still stunned at the news.

“He had a big heart for everybody,” Salote Aholelei said of Hailame Lavaka. “He’s the most near to Christ-like love.”

Early Wednesday morning, the Lavakas were traveling southbound in a Nissan Titan toward Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport when a Toyota 4Runner crossed into their lane causing a broadside collision.

The vehicles both went up in flames. The two men who occupied the 4Runner, Hector Vargas Vigil and Ocdulio Garcia Orellana, and Hailame Lavaka were pronounced dead at Kona Community Hospital.

An off-duty officer and motorist at the crash scene pulled Alana Lavaka to safety. According to police Thursday evening, Alana Lavaka was in critical but stable condition.

Vaitaki Aholelei said the couple was on their way to a funeral in Honolulu.

Members of the LDS congregation the Lavakas attended spoke about how loving and gracious Hailame Lavaka was.

“Their family was the most important thing in their lives,” said church member Barbara Robertson.

Vaitaki Aholelei said the family moved to Waimea four or five years ago from Maui. Hailame Lavaka was a third-generation woodworker.

The couple has five young children.

Vaitaki Aholelei described Hailame Lavaka as quiet but very giving.

“I never heard him raise his voice to his wife or his kids,” he said.

Vaitaki Aholelei said Hailame Lavaka was at every church activity and service project.

“There was nothing bad to say about him,” he said.

As much as people are mad about the crash, Vaitaki Aholelei said, it’s the choices not the person that are bad.

He added there needs to be a passing lane on Queen Kaahumanu Highway.

“They’re in a rush to go nowhere,” he said of drivers.

A neighbor of the Lavakas said they are a loving and kind family.

“I’m glad the mom’s going to be OK,” she said. “That’s a godsend.”

The neighbor also mentioned there needs to be a passing lane put in on the highway.

“We need to send a message to the county,” she said.

Wednesday’s wreck put the number of people killed in a car crash up to 15 this year.

Email Tiffany DeMasters at


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