Could high-speed chase, deadly crash on Maui have been avoided?

A high-speed chase on Maui this weekend turned deadly, killing the suspect and an innocent driver.

We’re digging deeper to find out if this crash could have been avoided.

The collision happened Saturday afternoon on Kuihelani Highway. Maui police say Joshua Apo, 29, of Wailuku was driving at a high rate of speed in the opposite direction of traffic. Apo was traveling north in the southbound lanes as officers followed him from the northbound lanes of the highway.

Apo then collided head-on into a black Scion that was traveling south.

Both Apo and the woman driving the Scion, Melissa Egbert, 33, of Lahaina, were transported to the hospital and later died from their injuries.

We wanted to know the protocols officers follow when it comes to pursuing a suspect on a high-speed chase.

Lt. Gregg Okamoto with the Maui Police Department says any time there is a pursuit, the department has to file an evaluation to make sure policies were followed.

Right now, Okamoto says, the chase and crash all remain under investigation, and the department is trying to determine if chasing after Apo was necessary. It started when Apo allegedly tried to run over police officers.

“All officers shall make an evaluation to initiate or continue a pursuit based on the seriousness of the offense, probability of apprehending the responsible at a later time, weather and driving conditions, as well as traffic level,” he explained.

Okamoto says the more dangerous the suspect is to the public, the more justification officers have to pursue.

We also spoke with state Sen. Will Espero about police department protocols for pursuits.

“If somebody is driving in a way that puts anyone in danger, so that could be someone is starting to run red lights for example, or even going down the wrong way on a one-way road or even on a two-way road, riding in the wrong lane where you are trying to pass others, anything that could hurt and possibly kill innocent victims shouldn’t be done. It should be avoided,” Espero said.

Espero says he introduced legislation back in 2009 that looked into placing more uniformed guidelines. The bill didn’t pass.

“What I found was there were no statewide guidelines. Each county just had their own policy,” Espero said. “I think the discussion needs to be had because of what just happened on Maui and that innocent people can get killed.”

The Hawaii Department of Public Safety confirmed Apo had just been released from prison earlier this month after spending more than a year behind bars for drug-related charges.

A close friend and former coworker of Egbert told us she was from California and recently started as a professor at University of Hawaii Maui College.

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