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Friday, November 21, 2014         

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Police search for answers in fatal wrong-way crash on H-2

The incident causes a major traffic snarl through Central Oahu

By Gary T. Kubota and Gregg K. Kakesako

POSTED:

Traffic crept through Kamehameha Highway and Meheula Parkway in Mililani after a motorist driving the wrong way Monday caused a collision that closed the H-2 freeway's southbound lanes for about five hours.

Honolulu police investigators are continuing to look into how a 58-year-old Wahiawa man drove on the wrong side of the H-2 freeway, causing a three-vehicle wreck that killed him.

"It is unknown at this time where the male driver entered the freeway or why he was driving in the wrong direction," police spokeswoman Michelle Yu said.

The crash occurred at 4:28 a.m. about 1,000 feet north of Pineapple Overpass Road and near the Waipio offramp at Ka Uka Boulevard.

The Honolulu Medical Examiner's Office was awaiting confirmation of the man's identity through family members.

Toxicology tests on the man were still pending last night.

Police said the man, driving a Hyundai sedan, worked as a security guard, but police did not know what he was doing on the freeway at that hour.

Police said the man's vehicle, traveling north in the southbound freeway lanes, collided head-on with a Toyota SUV driven by a 47-year-old Waialua woman. The woman was reported in critical condition at the Queen's Medical Center.

A 44-year-old Waianae woman driving a Honda sedan swerved to avoid the two vehicles and crashed into the center median. She was taken to Queen's in good condition.

Police closed the freeway to investigate, causing a major traffic backup in Mililani and also affecting morning commuters from Wahiawa and the North Shore.

Police said all lanes reopened at 9:27 a.m., but drivers said the traffic continued to be slow both ways.

Police closed the northbound lanes of Kamehameha Highway at Kipapa Gulch to allow southbound traffic to flow on both sides of the highway. Police resumed normal traffic on Kamehameha Highway at Kipapa Gulch at 8:42 a.m.

Yu said Honolulu police apologize for the inconvenience and understand motorists' frustration with road closures, but it's not always possible to reopen roadways quickly.

Police needed to clear the debris and vehicles, as well as conduct an investigation, she said. Yu said debris from the three-car incident spanned all of the southbound lanes of the freeway and stretched for 50 yards.

Other drivers have died in wrong-way crashes on Oahu's freeways:

» Two drivers were killed when a drunken woman drove her SUV the wrong way on the Moana­lua Freeway and crashed head-on with another vehicle in March 2006.

» Two people were killed when a wrong-way driver entered H-1 near Waipahu and his truck collided with another truck in April 2005.

» Hawaii writer Lisa Matsumoto died after a head-on collision on H-1 westbound caused when she drove the wrong way in December 2007. The other driver was seriously injured. The level of alcohol in Matsumoto's blood was twice the legal limit.






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