HONOMANU, MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Maui police are investigating the death of a young California visitor who plunged off a cliff near Honomanu Bay. Cristian Lopez, 12, just finished the seventh grade at Chula Vista Middle School on Friday, according to the principal. He was on vacation with his family when tragedy struck at about 10:30 a.m. on Sunday.
The winding road to Hana offers breathtaking views. Police said the Lopez family parked their rental vehicle at a pullout area along Hana Highway. The boy quickly got out and ran toward a dirt hill, according to investigators.
"The mom, who was identified as a Tanya Lopez, exited the vehicle, calling out to her son, however, the son failed to stop and he continued and he went up and over the edge," said Lt. Wayne Ibarra of the Maui Police Department.
Authorities said Lopez fell approximately 300 to 350 feet. Emergency crews found his body along the shoreline. Lopez was pronounced dead at Maui Memorial Medical Center.
"He wasn't doing anything wrong. He was just with his family and so it's just unfortunate. It's a real unfortunate tragedy that he stepped out of a car and went to look over a cliff and unfortunately, fell right off the cliff," said Viky Mitrovich, principal of Chula Vista Middle School.
Mitrovich plans to talk to the boy's parents about planning a tribute at the school.
"He was a very good student. Played guitar. Performed in his first concert at the end of the school year," said Mitrovich. "It's a very sad loss for our school and our community, losing such a bright young man who had a lot of potential."
Authorities said the pullout area was not designed to be a lookout.
"It's one of the many areas along the Hana Highway where it's considered a pullout - where vehicles pull off to the side of the road - allow other vehicles to pass by, but it's nothing that's maintained by the county or the state, I believe, and there's no signage," said Ibarra.
"There's nothing at the end. It's a trail that just ends abruptly and beyond that is a very steep fall," said a couple of visitors at the lookout.
The Maui Visitors and Convention Bureau is now assisting the devastated family. Police have classified the case as a miscellaneous accident.