WAIMEA -The victim who died in Tuesday’s fiery crash along Kuamuali’i Highway
near Kaumakani has been identified as Henry Soares, 36, of
According to Beth Tokioka, the county’s public information officer,
it took fire crews from Hanapepe and Waimea 90 minutes to extract Soares from
his Isuzu multi-purpose vehicle.
And, it took the better part of 24 hours
from the time of the accident to the time Soares was positively
Burned beyond recognition after a collision with a County of
Kaua’i public bus with a driver and six passengers aboard, Soares was taken to
Kaua’i Veterans Memorial Hospital (KVMH).
All those on the bus were also
taken to the hospital, where they were treated and released, while an autopsy
and identification work were done on Soares.
A rare summer rain squall on
the Westside, which apparently caused poor visibility, may have been a
contributing factor to the accident, according to police reports and an
eyewitness who also saw a heroic rescue attempt by an unidentified Filipino man
who was driving a red car.
The bus was traveling toward Kekaha, and Soares
was heading toward Lihu’e, when the two collided. The force of the impact,
according to police, sent Soares’ vehicle back from the westbound to the
eastbound lane, where it ended up in flames against the guardrail.
Eleanor M. Seeley, who was two vehicles behind the bus at the time of the
accident, recalled in a letter to The Garden Island the unidentified Filipino
man who risked his life to try to save a stranger’s.
“He and I were the
first ones at the accident, and I witnessed how he heroically ran to an
exploding car and tried to rescue the person trapped inside,” she said.
put himself in danger and overlooked the fact that there could have been a
second explosion with the bus.” Seeley said conditions in the rain at the time
of the accident reduced visibility to almost zero, and she nearly lost control
of her truck while applying the brakes to slow herself down.
she witnessed terror through the windshield. “I saw the Kaua’i Bus had hit a
car (I couldn’t tell if it was from behind or head-on); and the bus crossed
over the divider line and rammed and pinned the vehicle to the left (eastbound
lane) guardrail, smashing the car like an accordion,” she recalled.
accident and what happened after will have a long-term impact on Seeley, she
“The monument of this individual is on my heart as well. My deepest
regret for the families of this individual,” she said.
“And my highest
respect and regards for the brave Filipino man in the red car (whose name I
never got), whose courage I witnessed. You are a great testimony to our
island,” Seeley said.
The Kaua’i Police Department Traffic Safety Unit is
looking for other eyewitnesses to the fatal traffic accident, including the
“This information is very important to the investigative
team,” said Tokioka. “Anyone with first-hand knowledge about the accident
should call acting Sgt. Jon Takamura or Lt. Stanton Koizumi, at
The bus driver, who has not been identified, is currently on
administrative leave pending results of standard-procedure, post-accident
alcohol and drug testing, Tokioka said. The testing was also done at KVMH. The
bus driver is also distraught, she said.