Saturday, July 12, 2014

Crazy school bus accident, and the dangers of the road by Mama's Fish House


Maui is so relaxed and rural, it seems that nothing really bad could happen here. And while we complain regularly about traffic, it’s nothing compared to anywhere else. Excluding the Road to Hana, which has scores of one-lane bridges and more curves than the Swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated.

Photo by Corinne Bourgoin on MauiWatch.

DH and I are driving down Hana Highway towards Paia this morning, around 10:30 am, and suddenly come across a road block, just past Hookipa Beach Park. WTF??? Both lanes are closed and there’s a detour up Holomua Road, that goes into the sugar cane fields and leads to the old Maui High School.

Both lanes of Hana Highway are blocked!
This is the view coming back down Holomua Road to Hana Highway, on our way back.

Even though we have last century’s TV at home, complete w/ rabbit ears and fuzzy snow, I am armed with mobile technology. The Facebook page for MauiWatch, which gives Maui residents the latest accident and traffic news plus other breaking news, says there is a BIG accident with a school bus last night. Someone stole an Akina school bus and crashed it outside the entrance to Mama’s Fish House restaurant, walked away from the crash and tried to hitchhike! WTF?? This accident also explains why the power went out in the middle of the night.

How the heck are we going to get to Paia? It turns out, there are roads that wind through the cane fields and hit Baldwin Avenue. I am using my map app on the iphone and see a cross road called Lower Hamakuapoko Road, but there is a big yellow gate across it. We drive a little further, wondering if we have to go all the way to Makawao (7 miles out of the way) and a truck and car shoot past us. Hey, they must know where they are going! Besides, it’s an island, so how lost can we get?

OMG! Where are we?!
Somewhere in the deep boonies of the sugar cane fields above Paia.

We follow the truck and car and take the next right going towards Paia. It’s a windy road, but it’s paved, but there are sneaky vicious attack potholes (VAPs) that are ready to pounce on lazy drivers. DH manages to avoid most of the VAPs and we follow the curves, hoping not to lose sight of the car in front, then we turn right and voila! We are on Baldwin Avenue, heading down the hill to Paia. Good old Baldwin Avenue, I could kiss thee!

Down we go, and WTF!? There is a line up of cars going all the way down to Paia. We wait for 10 minutes in traffic, move about 10 feeet, and then decide that the powers that be do not want us in Paia, so we go home.  

Baldwin Avenue, past the Maui Yoga Shala (the old Paia Train Station,
about a mile up the hill from Paia town) is bumper to bumper with cars coming down through the accident bypass. We are heading back home, to Haiku.

The full story of the crazy school bus snatcher? Beats me. From what I gather on Facebook, he stole the bus last night, passed another car on a double yellow line, was being pulled over by police, and then took off again and flipped the bus over outside Mama’s. Some commenters said the driver tried to hitchhike and then ran off into the cane fields.

Here are a couple of comments from MauiWatch's Facebook page (original punctuation and spelling):

 “apparently dis bus was driving crazy passed my mom on a double and was pulled over by the cops when my mom was giving her statement and before the cop could get to the bus da driver took off and flipped the bus by mamas

 "The driver of the bus stay hitch hiking on baldwin and olomoa street. Brown shirt "hawaiis finest" on the front and black shorts."






But I kinda have PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) around the area near Mama’s Fish House. 

THAT DANGEROUS AREA OF MAMA'S FISH HOUSE
8 years ago, I had a bad accident around that bend. I had my little rusty Maui cruiser (what we call a beat up car on Maui, a lemon that runs). After I pass Mama’s this minivan coming towards me, suddenly turns left in front of me towards Mama’s back parking lot. WTF!? I brake, but hit the van in the middle.

My airbag goes off and punches me in the chest. I am in shock that this dude out of nowhere decides to turn left in front of me. What was he thinking? Why would he think he had room to do this? Police come to the scene and say my car is totaled. My husband shows up, and jumps up and down the hood of the car because it is folded in half like an upside down V, like the crease on an origami paper bird. He manages to jump on the hood enough to make it flat, but it’s like an aluminum ball that you try to straighten out but it’s still crumpled and crappy looking. We exchange insurance cards with the other driver, who is from somewhere in Micronesia and works at Mama’s Fish House.

Later, it turns out that the other driver had a fake insurance card! Hawaii is a no-fault state for car insurance, meaning one’s insurance covers owns own personal injuries.  I didn’t seem badly injured, just sore, but we didn’t know yet. And the driver at fault is the one whose insurance pays for car damage. But this guy’s insurance was invalid. 

This is actually a pretty common in Hawaii. People get insurance, then cancel it, and keep their insurance card. Called the police officer who was on our case, and he was totally useless and said they won’t pursue it.

By the way, Maui police are a mixed bag. For accidents, they don’t seem to be very helpful at all. Another friend got into a car accident in Haiku 8 years ago and the other driver had no license, no insurance and the police did nothing. On the other hand, we have the infamous officer Taguma who loves to give tickets for speeding and we don’t have tons of cops on the road, so that can sometimes be pleasant. DH claims that Maui’s police force numbers compared to population size is about 10% of the national average. That could be changing with the supersize police station in Kihei.

Ah Maui! The Hana Highway is now open, at least as of 2 pm, and traffic is flowing slowly according to the folks at Mama’s Fish House. But it’s a dangerous section of the highway. One Facebook commenter writes, “I lived on that corner for a little over a year and saw a lot of spaghetti I hope all are well.” Us too, because it’s a lot of excitement for a little island.

For more info, visit the MauiWatch page. Kind of wish I had checked it this morning! Big shout out to MauiWatch!

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5 comments:

  1. Jeez! What a strange caper with that school bus. At least all this happened when there weren't any kids on the bus.

    Sorry about your accident. And how nasty about the fake insurance card!

    p.s. I'm dropping by from last week's #StoryDam blog linky. I try to hop through it before each week's chat. Hope to see you at #StoryDam chat tonight at 8pmET! :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Aloha Tui, thanks for stopping by! Yes, definitely a strange incident. And the highway was blocked the following Sunday because of a tree falling down (or so I heard) - apparently due to the heavy rain in July. So it took my friends two hours to get to Paia, a little town that's 7 miles from where we live. Normally, this takes 15 minutes.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yikes, that's crazy about the school bus incident (Tui's word of caper is so perfect!). Because who steals a school bus? Of all the vehicles one could commandeer - why something so unwieldy as school bus? I'd love to find out the story behind that one - I'm sure there were chemical substances involved. :-)

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