Man, 70s, dies after Pali Highway crash

Published On: May 22 2013 10:54:00 AM HST

A fatal high speed and dramatic airborne crash on the Pali. The crash was somehow tragic and miraculous at the same time.

HONOLULU -

Honolulu police say the Pali Highway in both directions are closed due to a crash investigation Wednesday in Nuuanu involving a sports-utility vehicle.

The crash happened near Puiwa Road/Country Club Road.

A man in his late 70s was hospitalized in extremely critical condition, according to Emergency Medical Services officials.  A woman in her late 60s was taken to the hospital in critical condition, according to police.

Police say the male driver died after he was taken to the hospital.

The man is identified as the owner of Grace's Drive Inn Takashi Kitozuka.  His wife was the passenger in the SUV.

The closure on the Pali Highway at Puiwa Road/Country Club Road was made just before 11 a.m.  The closure at Wylie Street was made just after 11:30 a.m.  At around the same time, the Honolulu-bound lanes at the Kailua side of Castle Junction was also closed.

All road were reopened by 1:15 p.m.

Investigators say officers were called to the scene at around 10:30 a.m.

Witnesses say the SUV was going at around 80 mph on the Pali Highway heading towards town when the vehicle hit an embankment, did a barrel roll in the air about 60 yards, landed on all four tires and skidded into oncoming traffic.

PHOTOS: Deadly crash on Pali Highway

Click here to see more pictures from the scene.

One witness said the SUV flew over their own vehicle without hitting them.

An autopsy will be done to see if the male driver had a medical condition.  Police also say the vehicle will be examined for possible mechanical failure.

Police say speed was a factor in the crash.

Randy Flores says he was heading into town on the Pali Highway when he said he saw the vehicle in his rear-view mirror and thought it was going to hit his vehicle.

"I saw the vehicle then go airborne.  Airbag was deployed.  It happens very quickly," said Flores.  "At that point, I just saw the vehicle land and then I continued looking for a place where I can pull over."

Flores said the man was the driver and he still had his seat belt on and leaning toward the steering column.  The woman was conscious and had her seat belt on. Flores said her face was covered in blood.

Some witnesses believe the driver may had a stroke or a medical condition, but Flores thinks there may have been some kind of mechanical problem because of the way the vehicle moved into his lane.

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