HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A city bus slammed into the wall outside Kawaiahao Church around 5:30 p.m. on Monday. The powerful impact trapped the injured bus driver. No passengers were onboard, but the crash came dangerously close to a couple of college students preparing for a choral concert.
"We just heard a super loud noise," said Windward Community College student Casey Kitano.
Kitano, 19, didn't see the crash coming. He was walking with a friend near the wall when the bus hit.
"I just ran. I didn't look back. I just ran cause I didn't know what was going on and then I turned back and the bus was over here," said Kitano.
"I just heard a loud crash. My friend ran. I don't know why, but I looked back and then I saw all the concrete flying and that's when I ran," said Windward Community College student Tony Vierra-Albao.
The bus wasn't in service. Authorities said the 44-year-old driver was heading down Punchbowl Street and should have made a left onto South King to head to the Alapai bus depot. Instead, the bus plowed into the wall.
"There were no brakes. He didn't slow down. He didn't turn. He just came from the intersection and just went straight into the wall," said BYU-Hawaii student Dylan McMurtry.
Six college choirs had gathered at the church to rehearse for a concert. The students ran over to help.
"We were just telling him to relax and not to move and just to relax. He was freaking out trying to get up," said BYU-Hawaii student Beau Kapeliela.
"The damage to the bus caused him to become trapped and we needed to pull the dashboard away so that his legs could be freed and we could get him out," explained Capt. Terry Seelig of the Honolulu Fire Department.
Emergency crews took the driver to the hospital in serious but stable condition. Kitano and his friend are still stunned by the close call.
"Luckily, me and my friend were not injured at all. We're totally fine. We're here and it could have been a lot worse so we're just really thankful," said Kitano.
According to the Oahu Transit Services, the driver has been with company for five-and-a-half years and has a good record.
It is standard procedure to conduct a drug and alcohol screen, but the company strongly believes a medical issue was involved.