2 die in wrong-way collision
Officials say a woman was drunk when she drove against traffic on Moanalua Freeway
Police are looking for witnesses who might have seen a 20-year-old woman driving her sport utility vehicle the wrong way on Moanalua Freeway and crash head-on into a car yesterday morning.
The driver, identified by the city Medical Examiner's Office as Renee Champ of Honolulu, was heading east in the westbound lanes of the freeway near Red Hill at 2:54 a.m. when she crashed into the car of 40-year-old Chikako Iwakiri of Kalihi.
The Medical Examiner's Office said Champ was intoxicated, which was a contributing factor in the accident. KITV-4 reported that according to the Medical Examiner's Office, Champ was pregnant.
Police said both women tried to swerve to avoid the other vehicle.
Police are looking for anyone who might have seen Champ getting on the freeway or knew of her whereabouts before the crash.
"We're looking for any witnesses to the collision or anyone who might have seen a green (Ford) Explorer traveling the wrong way on Moanalua Freeway that morning," said HPD spokesman Frank Fujii.
Both women sustained massive injuries and were pronounced dead at the scene.
After the collision, Champ's 2004 SUV crashed into the concrete freeway median and caught fire.
Iwakiri's 1996 Nissan Sentra came to rest on the freeway. Police said the impact was so great that she was pushed into the back seat of her car.
According to the Medical Examiner's Office, an autopsy showed Iwakiri died of multiple blunt force injuries. Champ's cause of death was deferred, according to medical examiner's officials. However, police said she was burned beyond recognition.
Police do not know why Champ was heading in the wrong direction. So far, investigators cannot determine whether excessive speed played a part in the crash.
This is the second deadly head-on collision on the freeway in less than a year. On April 9 a man driving a Toyota pickup truck went the wrong way on the H-1 freeway near the Military Road Overpass in Kunia and crashed into another man, who was also driving a Toyota pickup. Both men died. Three passengers in the second pickup were also hospitalized.
Police said Oahu's traffic death total this year rose to 24 after yesterday's crash -- compared with 20 for the same time last year.
Anyone with information on the case is asked to call HPD Vehicular Homicide investigators at 529-3499.