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Company hopes to recoup costs to recover van in Ala Wai

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    A tire next to a coconut tree was all that was left above water after a van hit the tree and went into the Ala Wai Canal early Wednesday morning.

The towing company that removed a stolen minivan that plunged into the Ala Wai Canal early Wednesday is trying to track down the owner to collect payment for removing the vehicle.

Brian Kunishige, owner of Kuni’s Automotive & Towing in McCully, said the cost of the tow amounts to a little more than $400, which he will try to recover from the vehicle’s owner or the insurance company if the vehicle is insured.

“Right now, we’re going to have to track down the owner,” he said by phone. “It’s late model van, so it may be insured.”

He said the tow driver was able to remove the Dodge Caravan after a state employee in a small boat in the canal attached a chain to the vehicle. The tow truck driver winched the van to the wall, reattached the chain and recovered the van at about 11 a.m.

He said the state employee was with the Department of Health investigating pollution from the crash.

The 29-year-old driver apparently lost control of the speeding vehicle, which hit a curb, went airborne, hit a coconut tree and plunged into the Ala Wai Canal about 3:45 a.m. Wednesday.

The driver was able to get out of the van on his own.

Officers arrested the driver about 4:15 a.m. for investigation of driving under the influence of an intoxicant, driving without a license, and auto theft. He was then taken to the hospital for treatment of his injuries.

The Dodge Caravan was towed back to his Kuni’s Automotive in McCully.

Kunishige, of Kuni’s Automotive, said the city pays a small portion — about a fourth of the cost — if the vehicle is unclaimed.

“At that point, it becomes a big loser because what I got to pay out to these guys to do the job is beyond what we collect,” he said.

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