A 57-year-old Oahu man died Sunday after the pickup he was driving slammed into a concrete pillar for the Honolulu rail project along an already deadly corridor in Ewa Beach.
Family identified the man as Max Maneafaiga, a Waianae icon known for his prowess as a defensive back for the high school’s football team in the late 1970s.
Police said Maneafaiga was heading east on Farrington Highway about 7:15 a.m. Sunday when he drove off the roadway for an unknown reason and crashed head-on into the pillar. Maneafaiga, who was alone in the truck, struck a pillar in an island in the roadway just past Old Fort Weaver Road. He died at the scene.
Police said speed appeared to be a factor in the crash.
Marian Maneafaiga, Max’s sister, said he was a well-loved member of the community, known for his football abilities in high school.
He only stood about 5-foot-6, but his fans who knew him for his hits as a defensive back and called him “Mad Max.” She said after high school he went to Canada to play for the Canadian Football League before returning after about a year. He stayed in shape and about three years ago won a weight-lifting competition.
Marian said her brother was a great father and grandfather who loved the Lord. She said she spoke to him on Thursday when he called to let her know he would come to do yard work at her house Sunday.
“He would help anyone, he was so loving,” she said by phone.
Max worked for a moving company in Kapolei and was a volunteer at his church, Grace Bible in Pearl City. He is survived by his wife Iris, five adult sons, and four grandsons.
Marian said the family thinks her brother may have gone to the gym early in the morning and was heading to his home in Pearl City when he crashed. She said he was an early riser, usually getting up about 4 a.m., and wouldn’t have fallen asleep at the wheel at that time.
She said when she heard her brother was in a crash, she just “broke.”
“I just kept thinking to myself, I was praying that they made a mistake,” she said. “That it wasn’t him.”
Sunday’s crash was the third fatal crash in that stretch of roadway involving the rail transit project. Just three pillars away from the one Maneafaiga hit, a memorial of flowers and photos adorned a pillar for the victims of a 2017 crash that killed three people, including the parents of a then-9-month-old boy. Police said the driver in that crash likely struck the curb near Old Fort Weaver Road, before flipping over and crashing into a concrete support pillar.
In October, two people died in a murder-suicide after a pickup slammed into a support pillar along Farrington Highway, a half-mile west of Sunday’s crash. Police said the driver intentionally drove into the pillar, killing himself, his female passenger, and a dog in the cab.
Marian said police at the scene told her family Sunday that there have been four other accidents besides her brother’s along the same stretch of road, just this year.
“That road needs to be blessed,” she said.
Star-Advertiser photographer Cindy Ellen Russell contributed to this report.