Police have identified a woman killed in a single vehicle crash on Kohala Mountain Road Friday as Raylene Ha’alelea Kawaiae’a, 61. She has also been known as Raylene Lancaster. She was a revered kumu hula and Hawaiian cultural consultant, living in North Kohala.
She’s been a teacher at Queen Lili’uokalani Children’s Center, and was a practitioner in the ancient Hawaiian art of reaching agreement, Ho’oponopono. She taught hula with Hope Keawe at Hawi Cultural Center every week. Kumu Raylene has taken part in numerous community events and blessings as new organizations, especially in North Kohala, dedicated buildings. Recently, she and the Hula Halau Kalaniumi Aliloa O Hawaii Nei took part in the dedication of the new Hawaii Wildlife Center in Kapa’au. Director Linda Elliott said her presence and wisdom made the grand opening very special. She shared her ancestors’ connection to helping Hawai’i's birds as Hale o Manu. Elliott said Kumu Raylene’s passing is a mammoth loss to the community.
The accident which took her life was a single vehicle accident Friday around 2:30 p.m. She was traveling from Hawi to Waimea on Kohala Mountain Road and apparently lost control of her pickup truck, crossing the center line, and crashed into a tree. When firefighters and rescue crews arrived, they found her pinned in the vehicle, already dead. Police kept the road closed until around 7:30 p.m. for the accident investigation, which will be ongoing. They say there was heavy fog in the area at the time, and that the victim was wearing her seat belt.
Community members were shocked and saddened at the news. Patti Cook, a longtime community volunteer who works at Waimea Middle Public Conversion Charter School, said the entire Kohala community will feel the loss and that her passing will leave a hole in the community. Friend Sharon Hayden, overcome by grief, said in an email that Raylene “touched so many lives from keiki to kupuna, on this island, in this State, in our Country and in this World! Any person who stood before her was worthy and loved – this is what true Aloha is.”
Services are pending.