Man Arrested, Crashes Car Into Hardened Lava Flow

June 1, 2018, 12:37 PM HST · Updated June 1, 12:37 PM
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Lava from fissure 8 advances on Kahukai Street. Lava in this area is as much as 3.5 yards in height. PC: US Geological Survey 5.31.18

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.

The incident was reported at 10:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 31, 2018.  According to department reports, the man drove up to a police checkpoint at the intersection of Highway 137 (Beach Road), and Highway 132, otherwise known as “Four Corners.”

Police say 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. Police say the man was instructed to turn around.

Approximately an hour later the same individual 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 man was transported to the Hilo Medical Center for treatment of his injuries.

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Officers searched the area and located the man’s 1993 Toyota pickup with front end damage near the 5 Mile Marker of Route 132, (approximately two miles above “Four Corners”).

Police say 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,” according to police.

Officers investigating the traffic collision, and later having further contact with the man at the hospital, say they 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.

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