HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Hilo community is mourning the tragic loss of Barbara Klein, who police said was killed Tuesday while out cycling. Authorities said, the driver accused of hitting her told them, he meant to teach her a lesson.
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Klein is being remembered as a pillar in the Hilo community.
“She really dedicated her life to helping others, to educating people,” said Robert Klein, husband.
Her family said, Klein had the gift of giving, whether it was her talent, time or love. Klein and her husband ran Aikido of Hilo since 1980, teaching hundreds of students from around the world.
“We’re very proud to have developed so many people and to have led them along that path and she was a big inspiration for that happening,” Klein said. “It was always such a pleasure to practice with her and to have her apply the aikido techniques and throw me or pin me to the mat.”
The 79-year-old always put community first. Klein taught Hawaii County’s qigong and acupressure senior classes for the last 15 years. In her free time, she loved riding her recumbent trike.
“She was doing that, enjoying herself when she passed away,” said Klein.
Police said, Klein was killed on Oct. 3, after Carlton Inada crashed into her, left the scene and went home. Court documents said, Inada told police he hit Klein to teach her a lesson for going slow. The cycling community was shocked.
“There is an additional responsibility when you’re driving a vehicle of just how quickly that vehicle can become a weapon, whether intended or not it can cause a fatality or someone’s life to be changed forever,” said Travis Counsell, Hawaii Bicycling League Executive Director.
The Department of Transportation said, there have been 74 traffic deaths this year compared to 89 during the same time in 2022. For this year, seven of those deaths involved bicyclists. As the holidays approach, HDOT is urging motorists to look out for one another.
“Making sure we’re taking care of everybody in the car with us and around us so everyone gets to their destinations,” said Ed Sniffen, Hawaii Department of Transportation Director. “Slow down, definitely stop drinking and driving and make sure when you’re driving you focus on driving to keep everyone safe.”
Klein’s family wants everyone to be careful on the road. Although it’s a devastating time, they want to reflect on the amazing legacy Klein leaves behind.
“It’s truly remarkable to understand how many lives she touched and how strongly she affected so many people,” Klein said.