Mauna Kea plunge kills 2 people in Jeep
Police say speed could be a factor in a crash off a summit road
HILO » Two people were killed and a third was seriously injured Tuesday when a four-wheel-drive vehicle went out of control at a hairpin curve on the steep, unpaved Mauna Kea summit road, authorities said.
Police identified the driver killed in the accident as Phillip Patrick Y.M. Lung, 34, of Honolulu. His wife, Ryoko Lung, 31, who was thrown from the vehicle, was taken first to Hilo Hospital and then to the Queen's Medical Center on Oahu in serious condition.
A 33-year-old woman from Japan also was killed in the accident, police said. Her name was not released.
Answering a 2:25 p.m. call, authorities found that a 2006 Jeep multipurpose vehicle had gone over a 20-foot drop, overturned and come to rest about 40 yards from the road. The site is just above the Mauna Kea Visitors Center at the 9,000-foot elevation on the mountain.
Police said excessive speed appeared to be a factor in the accident.
They said Lung and his wife were wearing seat belts. The Japanese visitor sitting in the back was not wearing a seat belt and was thrown onto the rocky ground.
According to a published report, the Jeep was part of a group that included a second vehicle which was not involved in the accident, University of Hawaii-Hilo spokeswoman Alyson Kakugawa said.
The deaths were the 11th and 12th traffic fatalities on the Big Island this year, compared with 11 at the same time last year, police said.