Honolulu police believe the driver who started a chain reaction crash Thursday night that sent a SUV plunging off the H-1 Freeway was speeding. We’ve learned that he’s a taxi driver who was on duty at the time.
On Friday, friends identified the victim as Spencer Ueda, 48, of Aiea.
Ueda’s vehicle went off the viaduct and over the freeway guardrail, fell 30 to 40 feet, and landed on Nimitz Highway. Ueda died at the scene.
The taxi driver, a 65-year-old Waipahu man, works for the TheCab. Company owner Howard Higa says the driver had a paid fare in his vehicle, but doesn’t know the passenger’s destination.
The cab was heading east near the airport on-ramp, when it crashed into a vehicle, veered right and smashed into Ueda’s SUV.
Higa, speaking by phone from Boston, says the taxi driver has a “clean abstract.”
“He’s been with us for at least 5 years,” Higa said. “He actually is a good driver. I can’t understand really what happened. … I want to give my condolences. I’m really sorry and I personally would like to visit the family when I return.”
We also spoke with Ueda’s neighbor David Zatal, who says he spoke to the victim’s family, and that Ueda was a good man.
“Just the other day, he came by and brought a couple of cases of water down for the office,” said Zatal. “I see him everyday, always
good-natured, always happy. I always say that, in this building, everybody is my neighbor. And he was a good neighbor and friend.
“You see somebody every single day, and then something like this? Especially before the holidays? I can’t even express,” he said.
The taxi driver was taken away in serious condition for injuries to his chest and abdomen. His passenger, a 30-year-old Waipahu man, was unhurt.
The 26-year-old woman and her passengers in the second vehicle — a 25-year-old man and her 10-month-old child — were also unhurt in the crash.
The crash is still under investigation. This is the 54th fatality on Oahu in 2016, compared to 47 at the same time last year.