Speed may have been a factor in the vehicle crash that killed a 17-year-old Kapa’a youth Tuesday night, police said.
Police determined that the Kapa’a High School student lost control of his vehicle and skidded off the roadway. The pickup truck slid down a 10-foot embankment and flipped into Kainahola Reservoir, about two miles mauka of Kapahi Park off Kawaihau Road, said KPD Traffic Safety Unit Sgt. Mark Scribner.
At about 8:45 p.m., a nearby resident called police after hearing a crash. His early-1990s model Isuzu pickup truck was found overturned in the water. Police later towed the truck to their evidence lot.
Upon arrival about nine minutes later, police and fire personnel dove into the murky, chest-deep water to retrieve the man, but found he had no pulse or heartbeat. He was pronounced dead at the scene by emergency medical personnel. They estimated he was underwater for at least 15 minutes. The teen’s family also came to the scene and identified his body.
The lack of street lights and recently removed vegetation may also have been a factor, but police have not yet compiled a final report, Scribner said. County road crews have been removing roadside vegetation along Kainahola Road for the past week or two as part of regular roadway maintenance, said Russell Sugano, County Public Works, Roads Division.
Police initially said speed may have been a factor but they didn’t believe drugs or alcohol were involved. An autopsy was to be performed by a G.N. Wilcox Memorial Hospital pathologist late Wednesday afternoon.
Kainahola Road was last resurfaced in about 1996, according to Sugano. Installing guardrails along any roadway is based upon availability, and the county doesn’t have guardrails for Kainahola Road earmarked yet. Boulders were placed along some edges of the reservoir.