Keawa'ula Bay, HI Van Plunges Off Cliff, Jan 1994
VAN PLUNGES OVER CLIFF.
Five people in a Plymouth van registered to a McCully family were killed when the vehicle plunged 40 feet off an Oceanside cliff near Keawa'ula Bay (Yokohama Bay) on the Leeward Coast and burned on the beach at the bottom.
The victims in the accident, the worst single-vehicle crash in Oahu history, were charred in the fiery crash and still not identified last night.
Police suspect that speeding and drinking contributed to the crash.
LAB TRYING TO IDENTIFY 5 BURNED BEYOND RECOGNITION.
Police said speed and alcohol may have contributed to a fiery pre-dawn accident yesterday that killed five people near Keawa'ula Bay, also known as Yokohama Bay.
A van apparently failed to negotiate a curve on Farrington Highway, drove off a 40-foot embankment and burst into flames on the beach below, killing all aboard.
Police said it was the worst single-vehicle accident ever on Oahu.
The bodies were burned beyond recognition. The fire burned so fiercely that all traces of tires, exterior paint and upholstery were gone.
While police were able to trace ownership of the maroon 1991 Plymouth Voyager to a McCully family, they were still seeking positive identification of the bodies through dental records and other means.
Traffic investigators said two men, with the same van, were seen drinking Thursday night, leading them to believe alcohol possibly was a factor in the crash, which was reported at 5:08 a.m.
"It left no skid marks, just went straight off the left side of the road where the highway curves right," said Sgt. Edward Kaida.
"That's what puzzles us, too," said Sgt. Aaron Hedge said of the lack of skid marks. "There's a little one just before they went off the road. Maybe, because of the drop and the headlights he didn't see that there was nothing there."
The Kaena-bound van apparently crossed the highway's center line and drove along a 12' to 15' wide dirt shoulder for about 30 feet before going off the embankment.
The narrow, two-lane highway has no guardrails and poses a risk for speeders unaware of its twists and turns, said those familiar with that stretch of road.
"There have been several accidents," said Ken Silva, captain of the Waianae fire station. "I just don't remember any of this magnitude. Boy, I tell you what a senseless, tragic accident."
Mitchell Meyers, a life-long Waianae resident, said he doubted the van's occupants were familiar with the highway.
"They were probably speeding," he said. "Doing 40 or 45 miles per hour and went off the road in the dark before they knew it."
Meyers said he knows of at least four accidents at the same location over the past six or seven years. He said he couldn't understand why a guardrail hadn't been put up at the spot.
"What's it going to take?" Meyers said.
"A hundred accidents?"
The van was registered to a McCully man, whose family told police late yesterday that a son, 22, had borrowed it Thursday and had not been seen since.
The son was last known to have been with a 17-year-old Punchbowl youth, who also had not returned home last night.
Investigators said all of the victims appeared to be young adults or teen-agers and at least two were male. The others' genders were pending autopsies Monday.
The Army's Central Identification Laboratory at Hickam took dental X-rays of the victims to aid in the identification process.
The five deaths raised Oahu's traffic toll this year to six fatalities, two more than the toll by Jan. 21 last year.
Honolulu Advertiser Hawaii 1994-01-22