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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, June 10, 2001

Weekend off to deadly beginning

 •  Maps of the three fatal crashes

By Scott Ishikawa
Advertiser Staff Writer

The Kamehameha Day holiday weekend turned deadly with three people killed Friday night and yesterday morning in three separate accidents on O'ahu.

Mangled wreckage is all that remains of an Acura Integra that flipped over a guardrail on H-1 yesterday morning. The car landed on Wai'alae Avenue and continued before striking a Chevron station signpost, killing the driver.

Cory Lum • The Honolulu Advertiser

The most grisly accident occurred at 3:30 a.m. yesterday when a driver racing another car at nearly 100 mph lost control of his Acura and flipped off H-1 onto Wai'alae Avenue below.

In Nanakuli, a 7-year-old boy died after he and his father were struck by a Toyota while trying to cross Farrington Highway.

The last crash happened on Kamehameha Highway just north of Wahiawa when the driver struck a utility pole and died at the scene.

All three accidents occurred along stretches of road considered dangerous. There were 70 traffic-related deaths along Farrington Highway on the Leeward Coast in the 1990s, while numerous serious accidents have occurred north of Wahiawa along Kamehameha Highway and Kaukonahua Road.

Wai'alae residents say many drivers race along the stretch where H-1 turns into Kalaniana'ole Highway because it is a long straightaway.

Possible DUI

The Nanakuli accident occurred about 8:20 p.m. Friday in front of Hawaiian Electric Co.'s Kahe power plant.

The boy was taken to St. Francis-West Medical Center, where he died an hour later. His identity has not been released. His 54-year-old father suffered a leg injury and was hospitalized.

The driver, a 28-year-old Wai'anae man, was arrested for investigation of negligent homicide, driving without a license, and suspicion of driving under the influence. Police said his blood alcohol content exceeded the legal limit of 0.08 percent.

The Wahiawa crash occurred just before 5 a.m., when a 55-year-old man driving a late-model Honda crossed the highway centerline and struck a utility pole.

Police believe speed contributed to that accident, but don't know if alcohol was a factor or whether the driver was wearing his seat belt.

The latest accidents bring the number of O'ahu traffic deaths to 31, compared with 33 at the same time last year.

H-1 crash

In the H-1 Freeway accident near Wai'alae, police believe that the driver, a 19-year-old 'Aina Haina man, was racing his blue Acura Integra with a white Volkswagen Jetta up to 100 mph. Both cars were speeding eastbound on H-1 when the Acura struck a guardrail shortly after the Wai'alae Avenue off-ramp. The car went airborne off H-1 onto Wai'alae Avenue about 20 feet below near the intersection of Wai'alae and 21st avenues.

Brian Shugart, who lives directly across Wai'alae Avenue where the car hit the H-1 guardrail, said he saw the car continue forward and hit a concrete traffic island. The vehicle went airborne again and struck a signpost in a Chevron station parking lot. The impact tore the vehicle in two, and the driver was ejected upon impact. He was taken to the Queen's Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

"All I could see was a piece of blue metal and smoke coming off the (freeway) wall," Shugart said. Shugart, who was awake at the time, said he heard the sound of cars racing before the crash.

"They're always racing around here," he said. "You can hear them zooming by in the middle of the night."

Shugart ran to where the car finally stopped and saw the driver's body several feet away from the wreckage.

"I couldn't get a pulse or response from the guy," he said. No one else was in the Acura at the time.

Shugart was assisted by Barney Robinson, owner of the Wai'alae Chevron, where the car came to a stop. Robinson said he heard a series of clanking noises before a large boom.

Officers examine the wreckage of the Acura Integra in Kahala. Police believe that the driver was speeding in excess of 100 mph.

Cory Lum • The Honolulu Advertiser

"I walked outside and noticed the gas price numbers on our sign were missing," he said. "As I walked toward the sign, I saw the car and the boy."

Robinson said he was sorry the driver died, but thankful no one else was hurt or killed.

"If there was another car waiting at the intersection below, the driver wouldn't have even known what hit him," Robinson said. "Debris was all over the place and some innocent bystander could have gotten seriously injured."

Search continues

Police yesterday were looking for the driver of the white Volkswagen Jetta with tinted windows who was racing with the Acura driver. Witnesses told police that the driver of the Jetta apparently came back to the accident scene before driving off.

The crash created so much debris that it was nearly 1 p.m. yesterday before salvage crews gathered all the scattered material and were ready to haul the car away.

By that time, traffic along Wai'alae Avenue was backed up as passing drivers paused to look at the wreck.

One of Robinson's regular customers pulled out of his gas station to stop and look at the wreckage. Robinson pointed at the man's son sitting in the passenger seat of the pickup truck.

"You — look at this and learn," he told the boy. "I don't want this happening to you, you understand?"

"That's why we came out," the father replied. "I wanted him to see this."

Robinson turned back toward the shattered Acura. "Senseless," he said. "Just senseless."

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