Heavy rains the cause of fatal Kaua’i Bus collision

LIHU’E — Poor driving conditions created by a downpour was primarily blamed

for the death of a 36-year-old Kekaha man in a fiery auto collision, according

to a Kaua’i police investigation.

“We believe the heavy rains were a

significant factor in causing the traffic crash,” said Lt. Stan Koizumi, who

heads KPD’s Traffic Division.

The collision between a vehicle and a Kaua’i

County bus occurred on Kaumuali’i Highway in Kaumakani on June 26 .

Prior

to the collision, an Isuzu multi-purpose vehicle driven by the victim, Henry

Soares, apparently spun on the road and crashed into the county vehicle,

Koizumi said.

“We don’t know how many times, but the collision was between

the rear end (of the vehicle) and the front side of the bus,” Koizumi

said.

The investigation showed the bus driver, who was not identified, was

not responsible for the crash, Koizumi said.

Koizumi said he will forward

the findings of the crash investigation to the county prosecutor’s office for

review.

County prosecutors will determine whether to bring charges against

the bus driver, Koizumi said.

Following the crash, the driver was placed on

administrative leave pending results of standard-procedure, post-accident

alcohol and drug testing.

The tests done by police and the county

transportation agency proved negative, indicating the driver was clear to

return to work.

The bus driver was distraught over the incident, according

to Beth Tokioka, the public information officer for the county.

Following

the crash, the driver of the bus and six passengers, all unidentified, were

taken to Kaua’i Veteran Memorial Hospital for treatment and were

released.

In the incident, Soares’ vehicle was headed east on the highway

to Lihu’e at 6:45 p.m. when it collided with the westbound bus, police

said.

The impact drove Soares’ vehicle back into the eastbound lane to

Lihu’e and against a guardrail, where a fire started and engulfed the vehicle,

in which Soares was trapped.

A Filipino man jumped out of the car at the

scene and, risking his own life, tried to pull Soares out of the burning

vehicle, according to an eyewitness, Eleanor M. Seeley of Waimea.

Seeley,

who was two vehicles behind the bus at the time of the accident, said the man,

whose identity is not known, apparently ignored the possibility the bus could

have caught on fire and exploded.

She said the rainy conditions greatly

reduced visibility for motorists, and that she nearly lost control of her

vehicle while applying the brakes to slow down.

Staff writer Lester

Chang can be reached at 245-3681, ext. 225 or via E-mail at

lchang@pulitzer.net

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