Car goes over pali

A car went off Honoapiilani Highway and down a cliff side near the Pali Lookout shortly before noon Thursday, but the lone occupant, a woman, did not appear badly hurt, officials said.

An alarm about the vehicle going over the cliff was received at 11:54 a.m., said Fire Services Officer Edward Taomoto. The vehicle went all the way down to the water’s edge, he said.

The incident happened about a quarter mile on the Maalaea Harbor side of the Pali Lookout.

The woman did not sustain life-threatening injuries, said Maui Police Department spokesman Lt. William Juan.

The vehicle was expected to be removed by officials with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, Juan said.

Kihei resident Jeff Kern said he had pulled off the highway at McGregor Point around noon when he saw a woman pointing to something on the shoreline. Unsure what was going on, he went back in his car, drove toward Maalaea and went into the pullout to look for whales. Police and medics were behind him, he said.

Eventually, he saw a vehicle near the water’s edge, at least 75 to 100 feet below the highway, Kern said.

“It’s a pretty good drop,” he said.

Both of the car’s air bags deployed, and the woman driver was moving, he said. He saw that she had her leg up on the car’s dashboard for a while.

The woman appeared to have been drinking a tall can of beer, Kern said.

While he didn’t know if she was intoxicated, “she was feeling no pain,” he said.

The woman had her shirt off and was talking loudly to rescue crews, he said. Officials had her put her shirt on before they put her in a rescue litter and took her uphill to a waiting ambulance.

Kern said “she was awful lucky” because, although the car’s front end was smashed, the vehicle did not appear to have rolled over. It wound up on flat area near the ocean, he said.

“I didn’t see anybody else inside or outside of the car,” he said.

After responding to the crash scene, firefighters were called to help battle a brush fire in the Maalaea area, Taomoto said.

Traffic was blocked and backed up in both directions on Honoapiilani Highway, motorists said.

Thursday’s crash comes days after a car went over the side of Kahekili Highway early Tuesday morning in Kahakuloa. In that crash, the driver, Derrick Lamb, 26, of Wailuku died. His body was recovered by the Maui Fire Department’s Air One helicopter on Wednesday morning.

The front-seat passenger in the vehicle, a 21-year-old Kahului man, survived the crash and was able to climb out of a gulch to get help.

* Brian Perry can be reached at