[UPDATE: The item below on the April 15 hit-and-run fatality has been updated with additional details from the MPD]
Normally we’re content to leave highway collisions and traffic updates to the myriad other news sites and papers around Maui (and Hawaii) that cover such things, but lately I’ve noticed my email inbox stuffed with Maui Police press releases containing the word “Fatal”–including one about a hit-and-run collision in North Kihei just last night.
Unless you haven’t left the beach since March, it’s impossible to miss the fact that in the last two weeks, Maui’s roadways have degenerated into a demolition derby–with tragic results:
• On April 4, Clifford Spencer (63) of Kahului lost control of his Harley on Pi’ilani Highway in Kihei and hit the guardrail. He wasn’t wearing a helmet and later died at Maui Memorial Medical Center.
• Two days later, on April 6, Jared Robello (23) climbed out of the cab of a Toyota Tacoma traveling on Kula Highway. He then fell out of the truck bed while the vehicle was in motion and soon after died of his injuries at Maui Memorial.
• On April 9, Burton Salas (24) of Wailuku was riding a Suzuki motorcycle on North Kihei Road near the Kealia Wildlife Reserve when he “failed to negotiate a curve in the roadway” and hit the guardrail. He was wearing a helmet, but still died at the scene.
• Shortly after 1am on April 12, a black Ford Ranger struck driven by a 28-year-old Kula resident struck Karl Hagen (61) of Kihei, who was riding a bicycle. Hagen was wearing a helmet, but later died of his injuries at Maui Memorial.
Things were so bad at this point–seven motor vehicle fatalities for the year, compared to just four in 2013–that the MPD sent out a press release on April 14 urging drivers to be safe. “The Maui Police Department is urging motorist[s] to slow down, buckle up, put their phones away and drive smart,” read the statement from Lt. Ricky Uedoi, the MPD’s Traffic Section Commander. “Speed is believed to be involved in at least three of the fatal crashes. Toxicology results are still pending to determine whether alcohol and or drugs contributed to any of the seven fatalities.”
Still, the deaths continued…
• Just a few hours after Uedoi’s statement went out on April 14, a car driven by a 78-year-old Kihei resident struck and killed Mary Fletcher (50) of Kahului, who was riding a moped at the time. Fletcher was stopped on Honoapi’ilani Highway, attempting to make a left turn into Puamana Beach Park, when she was hit. Though Fletcher was wearing a helmet, she later died of her injuries at Maui Memorial.
• And a little after 11pm on Tuesday, April 15, a Toyota truck struck and killed Viki Deardorff (51) of Kihei as she was walking northbound on Pi’ilani Highway, just south of the North Kihei Road intersection. The driver of the truck that hit Deardorff–which the MPD described as a “2012-2014 Toyota Tacoma bronze or khaki in color” with “fresh damages to the front passenger side grill, fender and headlight area”–fled the scene and remains at large.
Anyone seeing the truck allegedly used in the April 15 fatality is urged to contact the Maui Police Department Vehicle Homicide Unit at 808-244-6347 or Police Dispatch at 808-244-6400.
At this time in 2013, there were four motor vehicle fatalities on Maui. This year, there are nine.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons