Tuesday, December 24, 2002

Honolulu Advertiser Publisher Michael Fisch made a call on his cell phone yesterday near the truck that crossed six lanes of Kalanianaole Highway from Puuikena Drive and slammed into the rock wall outside his home. The driver and two passengers of the truck were taken to the hospital in guarded condition, according to Honolulu police.

3 injured as truck
crashes into rock wall

By Leila Fujimori

A dump truck loaded with dirt, palm trees and other debris lost its brakes and careened across six lanes of Kalanianaole Highway yesterday afternoon before smashing into the stone wall outside a waterfront home.

The truck's driver and two boys traveling with him were taken to the Queen's Medical Center, where they were in guarded condition last night.

The beat-up dump truck, driven by a man working at a construction site on Hawaii Loa Ridge, was coming down Puuikena Drive to Kalanianaole Highway when it lost its brakes about 4:15 p.m. yesterday, police said.

"Fortunately, he didn't hit anybody," said the owner of the damaged wall and house, Michael Fisch, president and publisher of the Honolulu Advertiser. "That's the real miracle."

The Chevrolet truck, registered to Mataele Construction, crossed six lanes of Kalanianaole, jumping the median and taking a marble-like sign for Hawaii Loa Ridge with it.

Police closed several lanes of the highway, backing up traffic on it for miles, and reopened all lanes by 5:30 p.m.

Fisch was the only one at home when the truck plowed a 10-foot-wide hole into his coral wall, which is about 6 feet high and 3 feet thick.

"I called 911 as soon as I heard the impact," Fisch said. Outside, he saw water gushing from a fire hydrant the truck ran over, near an electric transformer, so he also called the water and electric companies.

Two doors leading to a storage area of the house were damaged. Dirt from the load and part of the sign landed on the roof.

The waterfront home, featured in 1995 on the PBS show "This Old House," is just Koko Head of Kawaikui Beach Park.

Fisch's daughter, visiting for the holidays, had been staying in a guest room next to the storage area but was out shopping with his wife at the time of the accident.

The cost of repairs will be substantial, Fisch said.

"We're fortunate that more people weren't hurt," Fisch said. "In the end, walls can be fixed, and I hope that the two boys and their father are OK."

Bruce Nakamura, who was driving on Kalanianaole Highway heading Ewa with his 82-year-old mother, said he had the green light and was just about to enter the intersection when the truck narrowly missed his 1987 Nissan Sentra.

"I did say a prayer," said Nakamura, who was shaken by the close call. "I thanked the Lord for saving us."

He said: "Palm trees (from the truck) were just raining on us, and it was like I was four-wheeling. A second more and it would've killed us."

Nakamura said he had been complaining about his finances this Christmas, but "all I need now is safety and health."

"It's all I really want," he said. "I'm just thankful to be alive."

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