Runaway truck slams into house on Pali Highway
A runaway dump truck crashed into a house on Pali Highway this morning.
The truck, belonging to Tampos Trucking Inc., was town-bound on Pali when its brakes failed. It eventually crashed through the hedge-landscaped medial strip and skidded down the Kailua-bound side of the highway before striking the house.
Kailua-bound lanes of Pali Highway were closed for most of the morning as police investigated and preparations were made to remove the truck. The highway was reopened at about 11:40 a.m.
Police are crediting the driver with taking all measures to slow the vehicle.
Bryan Cheplic of the city's Emergency Services Department said the driver was taken to a hospital in serious condition. It was earlier believed the driver was treated and released.
The house is on Pali Highway, near the corner of Pali and Kuakini Street.
The truck smashed through a hollow-tile wall, plowed into the garage and took off a portion of the roof of the house. Police said no one in the house was injured.
Police said the truck’s brakes failed further up the highway and the driver tried to scrape along the medial strip in an effort to slow the vehicle.
At some point, the truck crossed the strip before slamming into the house.
Ferdinand Endo stood on the sidewalk in front of his house on Pali Highway near the corner of Kuakini Street yesterday morning, amazed at his good fortune.
“I say I’m lucky because I wasn’t hurt, my ex-wife wasn’t hurt and the driver was real shaken up, but from what I could tell, he wasn’t too badly injured either,” Endo said.
Police officers at the scene were amazed at the driver’s ability to keep a bad situation from becoming a tragedy.
“This whole thing could have been worse, much much worse,” said police Sgt. Glenn Viloria.
From what police were able to piece together without talking to the driver in depth, the truck was headed toward town about 9 a.m. when the brakes failed much farther back up the highway.
The driver was able to keep control of the truck until the bottom of the grade where he rolled up on the School Street intersection and long lines of cars, remnants of the morning rush-hour traffic.
“Apparently, he chose the lesser of two evils,” one of the police officers at the scene said. “He could have rear-ended that whole line of cars and maybe killed himself or others, or he could veer into the hedge on the medial strip to scrub off some speed and continue on across into the oncoming lanes which where pretty empty at the time,” the officer said.
The driver went with the hedge option, ripping out about 30 to 50 yards of vegetation before the truck crossed into the Kailua-bound lanes.
Police had not interviewed the driver yet and had not determined if he drove deliberately at Endo’s garage, ending up almost in the middle of the driveway. They could not say how fast it was going when it crashed into the garage.
“All I know was that I was sleeping and I heard this huge bang,” Endo said. “My ex-wife was up, but she was in the back of the house.
“I ran out and the driver was already out of the truck yelling, ‘Are you OK? Is everybody OK? Is anybody hurt?
“He was a young local guy, about 35 or 40, and he was very concerned. He may have been in a state of shock. He was really shook up and I kept telling him, ‘No worry, brah, no worry, everybody’s OK,” Endo said.
He said he had never experienced anything like yesterday’s crash while living in the house at 1765 Pali Highway.
“Someone hit my wall one time, but it was a hit-and-run, they just drove of,” he said.
He was planning to tear down the garage at the front of the house and build a new one.
“I guess I’ll just have to get going on the project a little sooner than I had counted on,” he said.
Tampos Trucking Inc. was emblazoned in gold lettering on the truck door, and Endo said he expects the company’s insurance firm to pay for the damage to his home and car.
Cheplic said the driver was listed in serious condition upon his arrival at the hospital.
A huge tow truck showed up about 45 minutes after the crash and began to winch the dump truck out of what was left of Endo’s shattered garage.
The Kailua-bound lanes were closed for more than three hours following the crash.