Two accidents that occurred nearly simultaneously on Kuhio Highway near South Leho Drive in Wailua tied up traffic for nearly two hours during morning rush hour yesterday.
According to a Kaua’i Police Department press release, a female visitor driving a small sedan had just turned left from South Leho Drive into the stacking lane on the highway when her car was sideswiped by a southbound sport-utility vehicle.
The driver of the SUV did not stop, and police have not been able to locate the driver or his vehicle.
Following the accident, the visitor drove her sedan onto the shoulder on the mauka side of highway near the scene of the crash.
Immediately afterward, a local female motorist heading south in a BMW swerved to avoid hitting the visitor’s sedan, and lost control of her vehicle. She crossed the centerline and crashed into the side of a white van that was northbound on the highway in the contra-flow lane, according to police.
Apparently, the impact of the collision caused the van to hit the curb and roll over before stopping on the side of the highway. There were nine male construction workers in the van who were on their way to a job site, police said.
Five of the passengers in the van and the BMW driver had minor injuries and were taken to Wilcox Memorial Hospital in American Medical Response ambulances. All were treated and released, the press release stated.
The visitor and the passenger in her sedan did not have any injuries, according to the press release.
Jeanelle Chow was the driver of the BMW that hit the van. She is an advertising account executive at The Garden Island.
She said she was trying to avoid an accident because she saw a car coming at her from South Leho Drive.
“I was heading to Lihu’e to work, and saw the car come out toward me. I swerved to the right to avoid an accident. In the process, I lost control of the car,” she said.
Chow said she was in the left lane when the car came at her. She swerved to the right, then went into the oncoming lane of traffic going toward Kapa’a and hit the van.
She said she saw the van tumble over after she hit it.
“It was awful,” she said.
Chow said the van’s occupants had flown into Lihu’e Airport and were on their way to a Kapa’a job site.
She said she was taken to Wilcox, where X-rays were taken to check out her neck.
“They wanted to make sure with the X-rays if everything was all right. The X-rays turned out fine,” she said.
She went home to Waialeale Estates wearing a temporary neck brace. She also said that her car was totaled.
Anahola resident Kevin Bulicz was heading to work at Kaua’i High School when the accidents occurred.
He was near the intersection when he saw a car pull out and get onto the highway, heading in the Lihu’e direction.
He said he saw Chow’s car swerve to the right and go off the road to get out of the way. He said that she tried to compensate, then she overcompensated, and she went across her own lane and “T-boned” the van.
He said the van pivoted up, rolled twice, then started sliding on its roof.
He pointed out that about six feet separated him from the van as it slid past him in the Kapa’a direction.
“I saw the van roll toward me and slide by me on its roof,” he said.
He said that the van ended up on its side and facing Lihu’e.
“I seen a guy, the driver, come out from the front window of the van. He came out and started celebrating, like he was happy to be alive,” said Bulicz.
He saw two other men make it out of the van. He saw one man in a red shirt crawl out of a side window and jump to the ground. He said that the van started to smoke.
Bulicz teaches teach photography, art, and video at the high school. He had a camera with him, and started taking pictures.
He said that the craziest part about the accident was when the driver jumped out and started celebrating.
“He was happy to be alive,” said Bulicz.
Anyone else who witnessed the accident involving the sedan and the SUV is asked to contact Lt. Mark Scribner at 241-1612 or Sgt. Robert Gausephol at 241-1611.
Police are continuing their investigation of the two accidents, they said.
- Cynthia Kaneshiro, staff writer, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or email@example.com.