Driver falls asleep at the wheel, sending car into the water in Windward Oahu

Updated: Mar. 1, 2020 at 6:28 PM HST
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KAAAWA, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Tense moments in Kaaawa this weekend, after a SUV wound up in the ocean off Kamehameha highway with the driver and a passenger still inside.

Residents who live nearby say they heard a loud crash Saturday night at around 11 p.m.

“We started hearing honking and crying for help,” said good samaritan Chandalei Farinas. “My husband went down to go see how the lady was doing. The passenger was okay. The lady was in shock.”

Farinas says she was told the female driver fell asleep at the wheel and veered off the road. The vehicle then flipped down the rocks and landed upright in the shallow water.

Other residents came out to help, but the big waves made the rescue challenging.

"It was crashing up against the car, and the car was crashing up against the rocks. There were people on the rocks trying to push (the car) so it didn't crush (the driver) getting out," Farinas said.

The man and the woman -- both in their 40s -- eventually made it out safely.

Honolulu EMS treated and transported the pair to the emergency room in serious condition.

On Sunday, Kamehameha Highway was closed in both directions as crews worked to remove the damaged vehicle.

Residents say crashes along this stretch of Kamehameha highway are all too common.

Erosion and sea level rise has left the roadway with very little shoulder room.

The state just completed emergency shoreline repairs to better stabilize the area, but Farinas say a long-term solution is needed to make the scenic drive safer.

“It has been a problem for as long as I lived here. We’re scared to even just drive on the road because we don’t know if we’re going to fall in or not,” Farinas said.

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