Speeding, erratic driving observed before officer’s crash

Waiehu man, 37, charged with fleeing police, other crimes

WAILUKU — A driver was seen speeding and driving erratically to avoid being stopped by a police solo bike officer before a crash that injured the officer Wednesday afternoon on Maui Veterans Highway, according to police.

Robert Freitas III, 37, of Waiehu drove through two gates and at speeds of more than 80 mph to flee from a second police officer before being located Wednesday evening in former cane fields along Pulehu Road in Kahului, according to a declaration filed in court.

The crash occurred at about 3:50 p.m. Wednesday as the police motorcycle officer was doing speeding enforcement and trying to stop a northbound car near Mile Marker 6 on Maui Veterans Highway. 

Witnesses reported the car was speeding, swerved right onto the asphalt shoulder to avoid the vehicle in front of it and nearly hit a stalled car on the side of the road before pulling back into traffic. The officer was following closely behind the speeding car and couldn’t avoid hitting the rear of the stalled car, according to witnesses.

Witnesses said the speeding car fled and turned onto Central Maui Baseyard Road, where an officer saw the vehicle and tried to stop it, according to police.

The officer identified Freitas as the driver before Freitas drove through a gate, then continued on Maui Veterans Highway, police said. The car reached speeds of more than 80 mph and was driven through an iron gate into the former cane fields before Freitas ran, according to police.

He was located in the fields shortly after 7 p.m., police reported.

Freitas was charged with two counts of first-degree resisting an order to stop a motor vehicle, leaving the scene of a crash involving substantial bodily injury, third-degree criminal property damage, fourth-degree criminal property damage, reckless driving and driving without a license.

Bail was set at $2,600 for Freitas.

His initial appearance was rescheduled for today in Wailuku District Court after Freitas reportedly refused to leave the Maui Community Correctional Center on Thursday afternoon.

Freitas also was arrested on two warrants totaling $200,000 for allegedly violating conditions of his release on bail in two pending 2nd Circuit Court cases. In those cases, he has pleaded not guilty to three counts of second-degree assault, nine counts of violating an order for protection, three counts of abuse, fourth-degree theft and harassment by stalking.

According to court records, Freitas allegedly admitted using oxycodone and failed to check in. He denied the allegations when he appeared in 2nd Circuit Court on Thursday morning.

* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at lfujimoto@mauinews.com.

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