Friday, January 26, 2001
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Posted on: Friday, January 26, 2001

Fatal accident highlights dangers of old Maui road

By Timothy Hurley
Advertiser Maui Bureau

WAILUKU, Maui — The Maui Police Department yesterday identified a 49-year-old Kihei woman who died Wednesday in a traffic accident on the Honoapiilani Highway at Launiupoko.

Nava Perl-Koko, owner of Cinderella Services, a condominium cleaning service based in Lahaina, became Maui’s first traffic fatality this year after her sports car swerved into the oncoming lane and she was hit by a larger sedan.

The occupants of the sedan, a man and woman from Brighton, Colo., suffered only minor injuries and were taken to Maui Memorial Medical Center in Wailuku, where they were treated and released.

While the couple were wearing seat belts, and Perl-Koko was not, said Ricky Uedoi, traffic investigator. She died on the scene.

Uedoi said Perl-Koko was driving a 1990 Mazda Miata in the Kihei direction at 12:25 p.m. Wednesday when she swerved across the road near Launiupoko Wayside Park and was struck on the passenger side by a Ford Taurus.

Uedoi said investigators were looking into whether speeding, alcohol or drugs played a role in the accident.

The crash blocked traffic and caused a backup for miles — the second time in a week the Honoapiilani Highway was brought to a standstill.

On Monday, a brush fire near Launiupoko burned to the road, forcing authorities to shut it down.

Maui County Councilman Wayne Nishiki said yesterday he’s considering asking state officials to place a sign on the roadway saying how many fatalities have occurred on the highway. The idea, he said, is to remind motorists to concentrate on driving rather than looking at the striking coastal scenery.

Uedoi acknowledged that the stretch of road, from Lahaina around the pali to Wailuku, has more than its share of traffic accidents.

Fred Slusser, owner of PWC Hawaii Corp., another Lahaina cleaning service, said that while he didn’t know Perl-Koko personally, her death angers him.

He said the two-lane Honoapiilani Highway is a dangerous road that was designed 50 years ago for far fewer vehicles.

"It’s a nightmare,’’ Slusser said. "The government hasn’t done anything about it. What are they waiting for?’’

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