Rescue personnel are joined by firefighters in caring for an elderly man who drove the wrong way up the town-bound lane of Likelike Highway fronting the Kam IV housing project at about 9:25 a.m yesterday.

Wrong-way car
causes crash

The 80-year-old driver is
badly hurt heading into oncoming
traffic on Likelike Highway

A Kaneohe family is thanking God they are alive, after a wrong-way driver on the Likelike Highway crashed into their van yesterday morning.

Joey Akaka, 50, was driving his 1993 Nissan van Honolulu-bound on the Likelike at about 9:26 a.m. when he noticed a car coming toward him -- fast.

"He bumped off the first car in the next lane ahead of us and that brought him right straight into us," Akaka said yesterday afternoon, after being treated and released at the Queen's Medical Center emergency room.

Police said a 2002 Honda Civic headed Kaneohe-bound crossed into town-bound lanes of Likelike Highway at the Alu Street intersection, sideswiped another vehicle and then hit the Akaka's van.

The 80-year-old Kaneohe man driving the Civic was in critical condition yesterday at Queen's. The occupants of the third car that the Civic hit were unharmed.

Police said a medical condition of the Civic driver and speed may have been contributing factors to the crash.

Traffic was light and the weather was clear, police said.

"Luckily, it wasn't a head-on, but kind of off on the side a little bit" toward the driver's side, said Akaka, who estimated he was driving about 25 mph.

In the back seat were Akaka's wife, Diane, 49, and son Elijah, 5. No one sustained serious injuries.

Akaka said his chest is "really, really sore," his wife bumped her head and got a bloody nose, and his son got a small cut and a bump from the accident. All the Akakas were wearing seatbelts.

"If it was head-on, I think we all would have been gone," said Akaka, who is a nephew of U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka and executive director of Hawaiian Islands Surf Ministries, which runs Christian surf camps.

"Half of the front of the van pretty much is gone." Akaka said. "I just thank God when looking at the wreck and what we came through."

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