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Puna man drives past checkpoint, crashes car into hardened lava flow on roadway

MEDIA RELEASE

Hawaiʻi Island police have arrested a 55-year-old Government Beach Road resident after he circumvented a traffic checkpoint and crashed his vehicle into a hardened lava flow which had crossed the road.

On (May 31), at approximately 10:30 p.m., a male party drove up to a police checkpoint at the intersection of Highway 137, (Beach Road), and Highway 132, otherwise known as “Four Corners.” He identified himself as a resident of an area known as “Cinder Land” located in the nearby vicinity and demanded passage through the checkpoint to drive up Highway 132 to view the lava. He was instructed to turn around.

Approximately an hour later this same male party was brought back to the checkpoint by another resident with lacerations and injuries to his head and face. The man told police he had smashed his truck into some lava but was unsure where this had occurred. A rescue ensued, and the party was transported to Hilo Medical Center for treatment of his injuries.

Officers searched the area and located the male’s 1993 Toyota pickup with front end damage near the 5 mm of Route 132, (approximately 2 miles above “Four Corners”). The accident was caused by the impact of the cooled edge of the lava flow which had crossed and blocked Highway 132. Apparently being denied entry by police, the driver was able to circumvent the checkpoints in an illegal attempt to see the lava.

Officers investigating the traffic collision, and later having further contact with the male party at the hospital detected signs of intoxication and subsequently arrested him for suspicion of Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence of Intoxicants (OVUII-DUI). He was also cited for Loitering/Refusing to leave a designated Evacuation Zone, and failing to wear his seatbelt. Due to his admittance to Hilo Medical Center, he was released pending further investigation on the OVUII charge.

Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call Officer Elik Vodovoz of the Puna District at (808) 965-2716 or the police non-emergency telephone number (808) 935-3311.

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