Questions surround early-morning crash involving police-subsidized vehicle

Photo: Hawaiian Electric
Photo: Hawaiian Electric

Honolulu police are looking further into a crash involving an off-duty officer that caused a power outage in Hawaii Kai.

Many questions remain unanswered. Among them, who was driving the car?

HPD says it was a subsidized police vehicle.

Sources tell us that when officers arrived to investigate, the off-duty officer told them he was a passenger and had fallen asleep, and that the driver had left the scene. Sources also say that he could not identify who was driving.

So how is HPD handling the case?

It’s still not clear if there was anyone else in the car, but HPD says it has opened criminal and administrative investigations into the incident.

The silver Chevy Equinox crashed into a wall that could not protect a switching vault for Hawaiian Electric, so about 1,700 customers were without power when the crash occurred before 4 a.m. Thursday.

Witnesses say the car veered off the street and onto the sidewalk, and hit a bus stop sign before crashing into the vault.

“When he crossed this intersection, that’s when he started to veer to the right side, so right when he hit the driveway to Kaiser that’s when he couldn’t avoid it,” said witness Kalama Ginto.

Bill Thompson heard a loud crash and rushed out of the house.

“I asked one of the cops, is there anybody alive, dead or anything? He said I don’t know, I just got here. So about that time the door opens and the guy walks out,” he said.

We’ve been pressing HPD about this incident since Thursday. A spokeswoman tells us family members are allowed to drive the subsidized vehicles.

But the question still remains, why wasn’t the officer able to identify who was driving the car when it crashed?

The spokeswoman later told us that is under investigation. We also asked if the officer was given a sobriety test on the scene and if anybody else was found that could have been the driver, but got no response.

HPD did tell us that the officer in the car is with the Criminal Investigation Division and has been with the department for 20 years.

KHON2 asked former Honolulu prosecutor Peter Carlisle if investigating officers should have tested the officer in the car.

“Those seem to be very reasonable steps to take, and you would wonder if those steps weren’t taken by all of the officers who were there, what they were thinking,” said Carlisle.

Carlisle adds that officers had the duty to further investigate considering what they were told.

“If somebody else was driving the subsidized vehicle, he would know who it was,” he said. “I have never in my life put a perfect stranger in my car at that hour of the morning.”

HPD says the officer remains on full-duty at this time.

As for how much damage was caused, a Hawaiian Electric spokesman says it’s still too early to tell, but the the structure and the switching vault will have to be replaced.

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