2009 opens with 2 major car crashes, 1 of them fatal - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

2009 opens with 2 major car crashes, 1 of them fatal

Tracy Nakamoto Tracy Nakamoto

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - The year is off to a dangerous start on Oahu's roadways.

The island's first traffic fatality happened on a stretch of Likelike Highway where area residents say drivers speed all the time.

A twisted heap of metal sits on Likelike Highway following a violent wreck that startled area residents.

"I was sleeping about 4 o'clock in the morning," Tracy Nakamoto, Kalihi resident, said. "And there was a mean crash."

Nakamoto sweeps up after his New Year's celebration. After listening to fireworks all night, he knew this was something different.

"Oh, it sounded just like one bomb," he said. "I mean, boom, boom, boom. Three times."

A 46-year-old woman, who was a passenger in the car, was killed. The front of the vehicle is demolished.

"I knew somebody must have died," Nakamoto said. "Because of the way that thing happened, the impact."

Investigators say the 23-year-old man behind the wheel lost control near Kamehameha IV Road. The car veered onto the right shoulder, went up a rock wall and flipped several times.

"It's pretty evident that speed was a factor," Lt. Darren Izumo, Honolulu Police Department, said. "We aren't sure if alcohol or drugs are involved."

Police say the driver went to the Queen's Medical Center in serious condition.

"The driver was kind of saying something," Nakamoto said. "She's dead or something."

People who live along the highway say speeding is a problem.

"You can hear it coming down the freeway," Nakamoto said. "Even from up there coming down, they speed."

Oahu's first deadly crash of 2009 came just four hours into the New Year.

"I feel kind of, you know, I don't know, kind of bad," Nakamoto said.

The Honolulu Medical Examiner hasn't released the identity of the victim. An autopsy is scheduled for Friday.

Three hours earlier, at about 1 am, a motorcyclist suffered critical head injuries in Kaimuki.

Police say the 45-year-old man's motorcycle rear-ended a car that was stopped at a red light at the intersection of 6th Avenue and Mooheau Avenue. Investigators say alcohol may have been a factor.

No one in the car was hurt.

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