WAILUKU - Police are working to identify a woman whose skeletal remains were discovered in brush along Kahului Beach Road when officers responded to a car crash Tuesday morning.
While investigators hadn't determined how the woman died, there were no signs of blunt force trauma to her skull, said Lt. John Jakubczak of the Criminal Investigation Division.
He said detectives were investigating what happened, including the possibility that the woman might have died in an unreported motor vehicle crash.
The Maui News / LILA FUJIMOTO photo
A J&M Towing employee prepares to tow a Honda Accord that went off the side of Kahului Beach Road on Tuesday morning, leading to the discovery of skeletal remains in brush nearby.
The remains, which were determined to be about five years old, may have been under dirt and uncovered by recent rain and runoff, Jakubczak said.
An officer made the discovery after police were dispatched to the crash along Kahului Beach Road on the Kahului side of the old Y Hata building at 6:48 a.m.
Kihei resident Edwin De Peralta said he had been delivering bentos to the nearby SuperStop on Waiehu Beach Road at about 5:45 a.m. when his Honda Accord went off the makai side of Kahului Beach Road.
De Peralta was able to walk away from the crash and called police to document it.
The car landed in scrub brush about five feet below the roadway.
While waiting for a tow truck, De Peralta said police found the human remains in brush near the car.
Jakubczak said the remains were found in shrubbery 20 to 30 yards from where the car landed at the bottom of a small slope.
The bones were close together on the ground and didn't appear to have been scattered or disturbed, he said.
Police also found clothing and jewelry that indicated the remains were of a female, he said.
Dr. Anthony Manoukian, Maui County coroner's physician, who was called to the scene, confirmed that the remains were of a woman and had been in the location for approximately five years. Both sides of the woman's pelvis were fractured, and she also sustained rib fractures, he said, although it couldn't be determined if the injuries occurred before or after her death.
He said an examination of the bones indicated the woman wasn't in her teens or early 20s and also wasn't in her 50s or 60s.
Her teeth had signs of wear and decay, Manoukian said.
Police may consult with the Army Central Identification Laboratory at Hickam Air Force Base on Oahu for help in identifying the woman, Manoukian said.
Detectives are following up on reports of missing people as part of the investigation, Jakubczak said.
In 2005, a 31-year-old woman was reported missing after she was last seen in Wailuku. She had no permanent address and had been known to frequent a public housing project in Wailuku and the Kahului Harbor breakwater.
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at email@example.com.