Unoccupied tour van crashes off Hawaii Island cliff

Unoccupied tour van crashes off Hawaii Island cliff

ONOMEA BAY, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Hawai'i Island tour came to a dramatic end after an unoccupied van rolled off a cliff and into the water below the Onomea Bay lookout Tuesday morning.

No one was inside the van when it came crashing down about 100 feet, but it did create quite a scare for bystanders.

"I heard a big crashing sound, when I was fishing on the cliff right there. Then I saw the van and a bunch of people looking over. I just was hoping no body was in that van," said Clay Mendoza.

The van belongs to Kapohokine Adventures, which offers tours throughout Hawai'i Island.  According to witnesses, five clients and one guide were parked at the Onomea Bay lookout and were outside taking pictures.  Company officials confirm the driver left the van in park with the engine on and the emergency brake engaged -- but somehow it started rolling and was over the cliff and in the water within moments.

"I said whoa, I might have to go swim across there and go check on somebody and go help somebody," said Mendoza, who was relieved to learn no one was inside the van when it crashed.

Kapohokine Adventures co-owner Tony DeLellis issued the following statement: "We are thankful that no one was hurt. We have never had an accident with our tour vans and will conduct a thorough investigation into this isolated incident."

Officials say they're still in the process of figuring out how to remove the van.

It landed in a remote shoreline area -- about six miles outside of Hilo near the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden -- that is inaccessible to people because of the rocky cliffs and rough waters.

An investigation into what happened is ongoing.

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