Big Island man arrested after going around a road block, crashing truck in cooled lava

Big Island man arrested after going around a road block, crashing truck in cooled lava
File image of roads being blocked off by lava. (Image: Hawaiian Electric Light Company)

PUNA, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - There's a reason Hawaii Island police are restricting access to lava-ravaged parts of Hawaii Island's Puna District: Public safety.

And one Big Island resident might have figured that out after police say he crashed his truck into cooled lava that crossed the highway.

According to Hawaii County Police, a 55-year-old man drove up to a police checkpoint at the Four Corners intersection on the night of May 31.

He identified himself as a resident of an area known as Cinder Land in the district, but police denied him access and instructed him to turn his vehicle around.

Around 11:30 p.m., police said the same man returned, but this time, as a passenger in a vehicle driven by another resident.

Officers noticed the man had cuts and injuries to his head and face and he told officers he crashed his truck into some lava along the highway.

He was transported to the Hilo Medical Center for treatment as police investigated.

Upon searching the area, police said they located the man's 1993 Toyota pickup near the 5 mile marker of Route 132. It reportedly had front-end damage caused by crashing into an edge of cooled lava that crossed the road.

"Apparently being denied entry by police, the driver was able to circumvent the checkpoints in an illegal attempt to see the lava," police said in a news release.

Upon further investigation, police contacted him at the hospital where they detected signs of intoxication. He was arrested for allegedly operating a vehicle under the influence, loitering within a designated disaster zone and failure to wear his seat belt.

He has since been released pending investigation.

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