Tower crumples over roadway


POSTED: Monday, June 22, 2009

Two people were hurt yesterday when a minivan crashed into a roadside navigational tower, causing it to collapse into traffic on Ala Moana Boulevard.

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A portion of Ala Moana Boulevard was shut down when a car crash caused a 50-foot navigational tower to collapse across the road.

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The triangular Coast Guard tower, which stood about 50 feet tall, flattened the roof of the van and stretched across the sidewalk and four lanes of traffic, where it crushed the rear end of a blue sedan headed in the opposite direction.

“;I saw it coming, and I tried to move my car,”; said Kapahulu resident Charles Ho, who was driving to Aloha Tower Marketplace for a Father's Day dinner when the tower fell on his blue 1988 Oldsmobile. “;I was so scared. I just kept thinking, 'I have to move my car.'”;

Ho was not injured.

The chain reaction occurred about 5:50 p.m. when the minivan veered off the road for unknown reasons, said Honolulu Fire Department Capt. Robert Main.

Removing the sprawling structure kept the eastbound lanes at Ward Avenue blocked for hours.

Honolulu resident Bob Wilson, who witnessed the accident from the harbor, said, “;I was so shocked. I couldn't believe that the tower fell so quickly because it didn't seem as if (the minivan) impacted it that hard.

“;Considering what happened, it's a good thing that no one got seriously hurt,”; Wilson said. “;It really is just a miracle. It's a Father's Day miracle.”;

The minivan driver and his teenage daughter were taken to Queen's Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries, said Honolulu Emergency Services Department spokesman Bryan Cheplic. The man, 51, had chest pains and the girl, 13, might have suffered a broken leg, officials said.

Police redirected traffic onto Ward Avenue until the tower was removed and lanes reopened about 9 p.m.

Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Greg Bruzik said the structure was a range tower used to guide vessels through the channel into Kewalo Basin. Buoys and other markers in the channel will be the only guides for boats until the tower is replaced, he said.

Removal of the tower cost about $10,000, another Coast Guard official estimated.