Big Isle fire, fatal car crash tarnish New Year


POSTED: Friday, January 02, 2009

Two early-morning crashes on Oahu left a woman dead and a man near death on New Year's Day.

;[Preview] Oahu's First Traffic Fatality For 2009

A single car crash in the townbound lanes of the likelike highway just south of Kam four road in Kalihi.

Watch ]


In heavy rainfall at about 4 a.m., a 1992 Camaro crashed in the Honolulu-bound lanes of Likelike Highway near Kamehameha IV Road in Kalihi, killing the passenger. The 46-year-old Honolulu woman died at the scene, police said.

Police said speed may have been a factor in the crash.

Before the accident, a 23-year-old Honolulu man who was driving the car lost control. The car drifted off the right shoulder, hit a rock wall, and flipped several times before stopping in the far left lane, police said.

Paramedics took the driver to the hospital in serious condition.

Earlier in the morning, at 1:09 a.m., a motorcyclist rear-ended a Volvo stopped at a red light in Kaimuki.

Police said the 45-year-old Kailua man, who was not wearing a helmet, hit the Volvo at the intersection of 6th Avenue and Mooheau Avenue.

He was thrown and sustained dire head injuries.

Emergency responders took the man to the Queen's Medical Center in critical condition, while the driver of the Volvo was not injured.

Police believe alcohol contributed to the crash.

Meanwhile, firefighters said residents did a better job of safely using fireworks this New Year's celebration than in years past. No property damage or injuries related to fireworks were reported.

In fact, probable fireworks-related fires for the days leading up to and including New Year's Day dropped 58 percent compared with the same period last year. This was the third straight decline in pyrotechnic fires, Honolulu Fire Department officials said.

;[Preview] Students Escape Hilo House Fire

All nine students who lived in the home escaped without injury, but the five story rental was a total loss.

Watch ]


Rain might be one reason for the drop in fireworks-related emergencies, said fire Capt. Terry Seelig.

From 8 a.m. Dec. 30 to 8 a.m. Jan. 1, there were 24 fires thought to be related to fireworks. None were structure fires or brush fires, while most fires burned rubbish. In the same period a year ago, fireworks were blamed in three structure fires and four brush fires. For 2006, fireworks were the culprit in one building fire and 19 brush fires.

“;We don't know exactly why”; there were fewer fires, Seelig said, but he speculated that it may be slower fireworks sales and the weather.

Fireworks permits also dropped in sales this holiday season. As of Dec. 30, 6,200 permits, the lowest in six years, were sold. At the same time in 2007, residents had purchased 8,335 permits.

Seelig said the fire department's public education campaign to emphasize safety may have helped cut the use of both legal and illegal fireworks that proliferate in the islands.

“;Perhaps people used them more carefully,”; he added.

While it was a relatively calm night on Oahu for firefighters, Big Island firefighters are searching for a cause for a large New Year's Day fire that destroyed a five-story residential dwelling in Hilo.

Nine college students were left homeless and received help from the Red Cross, a Hawaii County news release said.

When firefighters arrived at 2:11 a.m., the structure at 65 Halaulani Place was already engulfed in flames.

Firefighters extinguished the blaze by 3:20 a.m. The fire also damaged two vehicles.

A damage estimate was not available yesterday.