MAUI, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Two women were killed in a double fatal crash on Maui Saturday night.
Police said it happened on Hana Highway near Maliko Gulch just before 9 p.m.
Hana resident Breeze Kalalau, 23, was behind the wheel of a silver 2020 Toyota Tacoma heading east. 21-year-old Rhe-Zhene “Kamalani" Puailihau of Kahului was a passenger, police said.
A police investigation revealed that Kalalau failed to negotiate a curve in the road near the gulch, drove off the roadway onto the dirt overlook, eventually going over the embankment.
Police said the Toyota then dove 188 feet over the cliff, landing upside-down on its roof, partially submerged in the water.
As word was getting out about the accident, Puailihau’s family says they were praying that the information was somehow a mistake.
“Let us have this last minute of hope until the cops and confirm,” Alysia Bush, Puailihau’s step mother, recalls thinking. “We knew, but we still had hope that it wasn’t her.”
Bush says the young women were best friends and did everything together.
She says it feels like they’re losing two daughters, but says the family finds comfort in knowing they were together at that tragic moment.
“They know everything about each other. They’re always together. They was inseparable. We feel just as hurt and heartbroken losing Breeze as we feel losing Kama,” Bush said.
Photos shared with Hawaii News Now from Maui 24/7 showed just the wheels of the truck visible above the water as recovery crews lifted equipment to the scene of the crash.
“I thought it was just road construction. There were bright lights and flashing lights in the area, but when I came up to it, I realized it was all emergency vehicles, more than I had ever seen at a site at one time,” passerby Meghan Springer said.
The two women died at the crash site.
Police said Kalalau was wearing her seat belt at the time of the crash, Puailihau was not.
The investigation is ongoing to determine the possible involvement of speed, drugs or alcohol. Springer feels the area the crash happened is dangerous, and something should be done to protect drivers.
“Especially since there have been multiple accidents, I know in the last year, it would be a really good place to put guardrails up to keep people safe. That area is just real quiet and dark,” she said.
This is Maui County’s 18th and 19th fatality this year. This time last year, there were 16 traffic deaths.