Driver dies, passenger hurt in Tantalus crash
Police believe a man was drunk when he careened off the road
A 25-year-old man driving a pickup truck up Round Top Drive yesterday lost control and careened off a 10-foot embankment, killing himself and slightly injuring his 17-year-old female passenger.
Police said they believe the man was drunk and speeding when the crash happened. He died at the scene, near 3455 Round Top Drive on Tantalus, after sustaining head injuries when his gray Mazda pickup truck rolled over and hit a stump on the driver's side of the cab.
The accident happened about 4:17 p.m. and police closed a section of Round Top to all traffic well into the night while they were investigating. Residents who lived in the area had to drive the other way around Tantalus Drive to get to their homes.
The truck's passenger was taken to the Queen's Medical Center in good condition. Police Sgt. John Agno, of the traffic division, said the woman told police the victim was drinking.
Firefighters also smelled alcohol on his breath, Agno said.
Tantalus residents say speeding is a constant problem on Round Top Drive.
"We've had problems with racing forever," said Sam Mitchell, a member of the Makiki/Lower Punchbowl/Tantalus Neighborhood Board. "We would like to stop it, but how do stop something like that?"
Agno agreed. "People are always speeding up there," he said. "We have constant patrols of the area."
Mitchell said the board has also considered pushing for speed bumps or rumble strips, but some residents have opposed the plan.
"Until somebody gets in an accident," Mitchell said, "it's not a high priority item."
Agno could not say how fast the victim was traveling when the pick-up apparently drifted into an oncoming lane, overcorrected on a steep, curvy section of the roadway and went "over the edge."
Mitchell and police said there have been no other serious accidents on Round Top this year, but there have been several close calls and fender-benders.
The traffic fatality is the 73rd so far this year, compared to 65 at the same in 2004.