KAHALUU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A mother and her two children say they are traumatized after being caught in the middle of a chaotic New Year’s Eve celebration in Kahaluu.
At around 11 p.m., the woman — who wants to remain anonymous for her family’s safety — says they were on their way to watch fireworks when traffic suddenly came to a stop on Kamehameha Highway near Tang’s Store.
She says there were vehicles burning their tires, smoke everywhere, and scores of people blocking the entire highway.
Those who live in the area say it's a tradition, but the family says they were terrified.
"It absolutely was mayhem out there," said the woman.
She says she called police because they were trapped.
“Another vehicle or two pulled up alongside mine on the wrong side of the road and began to burn out their tires. And then they started throwing beer bottles at my vehicle,” she said.
She says she told her kids to hide under a blanket, then made her way to the right hand shoulder where there was a crowd, including children.
"Yes, I did part the crowd with my vehicle, but I laid on the horn. I gave plenty of warning," she said.
She says that outraged the crowd.
Cellphone video shows people surrounding her van. One man even throws punches at her window.
“They bust both my tail lights out. And somebody begins pounding and trying to break my back windows out. At that point my children begin screaming,” she said.
"I could hear banging and screaming. I wasn't sure what was going to happen to us if we didn't make it out," said her 10-year-old daughter.
Out of desperation, the mother says she cracked her window and screamed that she had children in the car.
But she says her plea was met with a fist.
"He knocked my glasses off my face," she said.
She says that's when the crowd finally let her through.
Police eventually showed up at the scene, although the department said officers didn't see a large crowd.
HPD is asking for any witnesses who saw the man hit the mother in her car to call Crimestoppers at 955-8300.
“I’m scared for next year. Car noises still scare me. It’s hard to talk about it,” said her daughter.