Honolulu police said there was no accident and that no officers directed a Marine Corps convoy off Farrington Highway on Thursday — as the Corps had maintained — after two of its armored vehicles became stuck on a beach on the Waianae Coast.
There were two officers assigned to "special duty" for construction activity about a half-mile west of the spot where the two Marine M-ATVs got stuck in the sand, said Maj. Michael Moses, HPD commander for District 8, which includes Ewa, Kapolei and Waianae.
"They said they didn’t direct any military vehicles to do a turnaround," Moses said yesterday of his officers. "They didn’t even see any military vehicles pass their location during their shift."
There were no accidents anywhere near the location at about 2 p.m. when the vehicles were noticed on the beach, Moses said.
The Marines had said the three M-ATV vehicles were conducting convoy training when they reached an accident in the road, HPD directed the vehicles to make a U-turn and in the process of reversing direction, two of the 25,000-pound vehicles became mired on the beach.
Maj. Alan Crouch, a Marine Corps spokesman, said yesterday that upon further analysis it was unclear whether it was HPD who directed the convoy to turn off the road.
"I’m not able to say who it was, and they (the troops involved) are not able to say 100 percent it was HPD," Crouch said.
At or near Tracks Beach, "they were directed by a competent authority to turn left into a parking area in order to reverse their direction about a (half) mile prior to what they called an ‘accident’ but what could have been ‘construction,’" Crouch said.
Three Marine instructors, with six Army soldiers along, were conducting convoy training and were heading to Lualualei naval reservation when they said they were directed off the road, Crouch said.
Waianae Coast activist William Aila Jr. said the stuck vehicles were a good 50 yards off Farrington Highway, had driven another 50 yards on a dirt road and traveled 75 yards more on the sand before getting stuck about 30 feet from the surf.
Moses, the HPD commander, said it is illegal to drive on the beach.
"If they (the Marines) have any more facts, or a name or identity of the (police) officer or officers directing them that way, I would sure appreciate them giving me a call," he said.