Witness: 2 women whose SUV plunged off 200-foot Maui cliff were - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Witness: 2 women whose SUV plunged off 200-foot Maui cliff were fighting before crash

(Image: Tom Johnson) (Image: Tom Johnson)
(Image: Charlie Gale) (Image: Charlie Gale)
PUUIKI, MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) -

A bouquet on a shattered rock wall marks the spot where an SUV carrying two 37-year-old Haiku women plunged 200 feet off a Maui cliff on Sunday afternoon.

The driver suffered critical injuries and the passenger was pronounced dead at the scene in Puuiki.

Authorities said the Ford Explorer was heading south, away from Hana toward Kipahulu, when it swerved off Hana Highway.

Witnesses say the two women in the SUV appeared to be fighting before the vehicle plowed the rock wall and plunged off the sea cliff.

Some Boy Scouts from Kahuku and their chaperones saw the vehicle before the crash, stopped in the middle of Hana Highway. They said they saw an argument inside the SUV and a passenger pulling the driver's hair.

"You could tell that she was very violently swearing at somebody else in the car. She was mad and when she took off, it was in a rage. So she floored it and was in a rage as she sped past us," said Lawrence Lau, a chaperone for the Boy Scouts troop.

Lau said the vehicle crossed over to the makai side of the road, narrowly missing the Boy Scouts' van, before plowing through a rock wall and falling 200 feet to the shoreline below.

Hank Kaupe heard the crash and scrambled down the cliff, arriving at the wreckage first.

"I was kind of worried when I was going towards the vehicle because all the fluid and the gas was in the water and was splashing up on the cliff," said the Hana resident. "I'm surprised the car didn't blow up cause it was still running when I got there."

Kaupe tried to comfort the driver who was pinned between the steering wheel and the seat.

"She was in shock, I think. I had my head in there, trying to speak to her, (saying) that help is on the way, and was there anyone else with her in the vehicle? She was trying to speak to me, but I couldn't hear anything. The ocean was slamming against the rocks and the car," Kaupe said.

Fire crews airlifted the women to the yard of Vicki Sawyer's nearby home. The survivor was then flown to the Maui Memorial Medical Center.

"It's pretty upsetting of course, knowing that someone died, particularly," Sawyer said. "But the miracle was the one girl survived it, which was just amazing."

The name of the woman who died is being withheld until her family is notified. The wreckage of the SUV remains at the bottom of the cliff.

"My first thought, and for the whole night, I thought it was intentional," said Lau. "Then, as I was thinking about it afterward, I was thinking if she had floored the vehicle and the person then yanked on her head again, she may have just lost control and then went through the wall."

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