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Baldwin High graduate among three college students killed near Phoenix after being struck by SUV in wrong lane

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Hunter Balberdi was a pre-med biology freshman at Grand Canyon University. Photo Courtesy: Jana Dillon

College freshman Hunter Elaine Kinohi Balberdi, a 19-year-old from Wailuku, died early Monday morning in a four-car collision about 30 miles north of Phoenix, Ariz., according to Phoenix law enforcement.

“It is with heavy hearts and great sadness that we share with you that three GCU students passed away this morning after a collision involving a wrong-way driver,” the university said on its social media site.

Abriauna Hoffman and Magdalyn Ogden, both 18 and from Clarkston, Wash., also died. They also were freshmen at Grand Canyon University. The three girls shared a suite in one of the dorms.

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Balberdi graduated earlier this year from Baldwin High School.

Hunter Balberdi graduated from Baldwin High School in Wailuku in 2022.

According to a GoFundMe page in memory of Balberdi, she was a pre-med biology student.

“This tragedy was such a shock to her family, the Maui community and her classmates at GCU,” it said. “A bright and positive life has been cut too short.”

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The GoFundMe page already has raised $19,175 from 261 donors for the goal of $20,000 to pay for airfare, funeral and memorial services.

The accident happened at about 3:51 a.m. Reports said a Toyota SUV was traveling southbound in the northbound lanes and struck a Honda sedan, Nissan sedan and a commercial vehicle. 

Balberdi and her two friends were in the Honda sedan. Hoffman and Ogden died on the scene. Balberdi was taken to a hospital where she died from her injuries.

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The driver of the Toyota SUV sustained serious injuries. The drivers of the other vehicles had non-life-threatening injuries. Police say the driver of the SUV may have been impaired.

Gov. David Ige extended his condolences via a social media post on Tuesday saying, “My condolences to Deputy Sheriff Jonathan Balberdi who lost a daughter in a traffic crash in Arizona on Monday. Ms. Elaine H. Balberdi was a promising student at Grand Canyon University at the time of the crash. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Balberdi ‘Ohana and Elaine’s friends during this very difficult time.”

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