CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
A church van crashed yesterday into the rail of the Waipahu Canal Bridge on Farrington Highway. According to the Rev. Joe Hunkin, above, the driver fell asleep at the wheel. Four people were hurt and taken to the Queen's Medical Center.
Church van crash hurts 4 people
The driver reports he fell asleep and drifted off the road
Four people were taken by ambulance to the Queen's Medical Center in serious condition yesterday after a church van jumped a sidewalk, flattened a bus stop sign, struck a utility pole and crashed into a bridge railing in Waipahu.
The 11:35 a.m. crash could have been much worse, said Bryan Cheplic, city Emergency Services Department spokesman.
"If there had been any kids walking on the sidewalk or coming out from the park, somebody even sitting on the bench over there waiting for the bus ..." he said.
The van jumped the sidewalk on Farrington Highway in front of a bus stop and crashed on the Honolulu side of the bridge over the Waipahu Field Boundary Drainage Canal. The bridge is also at the head of a trail used as a shortcut to the nearby Waipahu Civic Center grounds.
Honolulu police closed both westbound lanes of the highway at Paiwa Street because of the damage to the utility pole. They opened the left lane for afternoon traffic after a Hawaiian Electric Co. crew stabilized the pole, said Jose Dizon, HECO spokesman. The crew was to replace the pole after rush hour.
The vehicle is a former Handi-Van owned by Lighthouse Outreach Center Assembly of God.
The Rev. Joe Hunkin said all of the occupants are church members. When he arrived on the scene, he said, the driver and some of the five passengers were bleeding from cuts, but all were conscious.
"I won't say they were really lucky. They were really blessed," Hunkin said.
Hunkin said the driver, a 24-year-old man, told him he fell asleep behind the wheel. The driver was among those transported to Queen's. The others were a 37-year-old woman, 17-year-old boy and 57-year-old man, Cheplic said.
Mary Jane Sakahara said she and her son were two cars behind the van traveling west on Farrington when they saw the van veer into the left lane, then jerk back into the right lane, then onto the sidewalk and into the utility pole and bridge.
Hunkin said the driver and passengers were returning to the Waipahu church after dropping off other members at the airport.