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3 die in high-speed crash on Likelike


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POSTED: Thursday, February 26, 2009

Two men and a woman died after a high-speed single-car crash on the Likelike Highway early today.

Police said an 2001 Audi Coupe was traveling toward Kaneohe at a speed they estimated to be more than 100 mph just before 4 a.m.

Police said the vehicle lost control just before the entrance to the John Wilson Tunnel, struck the right concrete embankment and went airborne.

While in the air the vehicle crashed into the moss rock and concrete wall on the right side of the entrance to the tunnel, smashing a traffic light, before coming to rest in the left lane of the two Kaneohe-bound lanes.

For the first few hours after the crash, police investigators could not confirm if there were more than three people in the vehicle which was barely recognizable as a crumpled rubble of metal and plastic.

“The car has been damaged to the point where we can’t see inside of it,” said police Maj. Frank Fujii.

Pieces of the vehicle’s tail light were lodged into the wall of the tunnel entrance. Shredded pieces of the victims’ clothing were scattered across the highway.

The bodies were extracted from the vehicle about 8 a.m. by Honolulu firefighters using the Jaws of Life tool that allows them to pry apart automobiles.

Police said the driver was a 30-year-old man, while the passengers were a 25-year-old man, who was sitting in the front seat, and a 22-year-old woman, who was sitting in the back seat. They were all pronounced dead the scene.

Both men worked at Haleiwa Joe’s restaurant in Kaneohe, according to restaurant manager and co-owner Tim York. The driver was identified as James Krzywonski of Waialua, while the other man was identified as Keone Cardenas, according to York.

York said all the employees were at a birthday party last night and that the victims and others were heading back to Kaneohe when the crash happened. Police said friends of the victims were following the vehicle that crashed.

Police closed the Kaneohe-bound lanes of Likelike at Valley View Drive as they investigated the crash. The vehicle was towed from the scene shortly before 9 a.m., but crews were still clearing debris from the vehicle which flew several yards into the tunnel. The highway was reopened at 10:26 a.m.

This morning’s crash marks the 14th, 15th and 16th traffic fatalities of the year, compared with nine at this time last year.

This is the second traffic accident this week involving speed of 100 mph or more. Willie Davis, 35, died after his motorcycle lost control while traveling 100 mph on the H-1 freeway in Kaimuki on Sunday, police said.

“When we enforce the traffic laws against people, they get upset,” Fujii said. “I’d much rather cite someone and have them mad at me, then have to come to a scene like this.”