A suspected impaired driver plowed into a crowded Kakaako intersection, killing two pedestrians and a bicyclist Monday night.
The 27-year-old male driver of a pickup was among five who survived. He was in serious condition, as was the driver of the pickup truck he slammed into. Two female adult pedestrians were in critical condition, while one male adult was in good condition.
The Honolulu Police Department said speed and alcohol may have played a role in the crash.
The driver was being treated for his injuries and had not been arrested Monday night. “With the suspect being injured, (they’re) taking care of treatment first,” said Lt. James Slayter of the HPD Traffic Division.
Authorities and witnesses said the pedestrians and a woman walking her Biki rental bicycle were hit at the intersection of Kamakee Street and Ala Moana Boulevard.
“We believe they were in the island and waiting to go across,” Slayter said.
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The pickup truck that caused the crash had hit other cars several blocks away and was proceeding Ewa-bound on Ala Moana Boulevard in the far left lane when it crossed three lanes of traffic in an attempt to turn onto Kamakee Street, Slayter said. The truck drove over an island and knocked over the light pole where the pedestrians were waiting, the officer said.
The pedestrians who died were a 26-year-old male, a 46-year-old female and a male who was in his late 30s or early 40s, Slayter said. He added that it appeared that one tourist was among the pedestrians hit and the rest were local.
One of the trucks was speeding “really, really fast” and hit a traffic light pole, said Gemma Alonzo, a witness. “It kind of looked like the movies, like everything was falling down. It looked like a hurricane. … You see all the debris just like falling down, and it hit the truck,” she said.
A spokeswoman for city Emergency Medical Services said the crash occurred just before 6:30 p.m. Five victims initially determined to be in serious condition were taken by ambulance to a hospital, and authorities said two males driving the pickup trucks were among the injured.
The Biki rental bike rider was one of the people killed, witnesses said. First responders performed CPR on the victim but later covered up her body with a sheet.
The traffic light pole was knocked over, and the two trucks were badly damaged. Police closed Ala Moana Boulevard westbound and Kamakee while they investigated.
Honolulu police, fire personnel and multiple ambulances responded to the scene.
Washington state tourists Elona and Irina Fabyanchuk were sitting on the shore at Ala Moana Beach Park when they heard screeching tires, a big bang and a crash that sounded like the construction crane they saw earlier in the day. They rushed to the scene and saw police and fire personnel performing CPR on the victims.
Elona Fabyanchuk, who works as a technician in an emergency room in Washington, said she was ready to volunteer her help but it appeared that there were plenty of personnel on hand.
“It is such a busy intersection with so many people crossing,” Elona Fabyanchuk said. “To see something happen that fast is so sad. It makes you more aware and cautious about crossing the street.”
The three fatalities pushed the number of Oahu traffic deaths to eight in 2019, Slayter said.
Hours after the crash, police were still on the scene and issued a traffic alert telling drivers to “SLOW DOWN” in the area. “Please drive with caution in the Ala Moana Blvd, Queen St, Kamakee St, and Auahi St area. Police investigation ongoing. Ala Moana Blvd, West bound traffic was closed at Queen St. All vehicles were being detoured onto Queen,” the HPD alert said.
The crash took place in the heart of Kakaako, a rapidly expanding central neighborhood with new high-rise condominiums, restaurants and shops. Developers have designed the area to be a walkable neighborhood.
Monday’s tragedy occurred just outside the ultraluxury Waiea condominium, the first of 16 towers Texas-based Howard Hughes Corp. envisions at its Ward Village project in Kakaako. The entire Hughes Corp. plan calls for a residential community with up to 4,300 condominium units and 1 million square feet of retail space.
“Here at Ward Village, creating a walkable community is at the very fabric of our identity,” the company said on its website. “At the cornerstone of our changing urban environment is the concept of walkability. As its name implies, a walkable city is, above all, a convenient city where residents can work, shop, dine, and play — all without relying on a car to get them to their destination.”
Pedestrian fatalities are the sixth-leading cause of injury-related deaths in Hawaii, according to the state Department of Health.
By the end of 2018, there had been 29 pedestrian fatalities on Oahu — the highest total going back to at least 2007. The second- highest annual total in that period was in 2014 when 25 pedestrians died. In 2017 only 13 pedestrians were killed on Oahu.
In addition to the fatalities, DOH statistics show Emergency Medical Services responded to an average of 529 pedestrian incidents annually on Oahu.
Honolulu Star-Advertiser photographer Cindy Ellen Russell, reporter Timothy Hurley, and Ryan Kalei Tsuji of the Digital Billboard Network contributed to this report.