By Robert Isaac, commercial tour driver on Mauna Kea (taken from a letter to county officials)
Last night we witnessed what could have been a deadly accident, way up on the top summit Pu’u. See attached photos (right)
A person in a white rental Nissan Altima sedan had parked at the luas on top and left it in gear or in neutral and leaving his wife in the car went to stand in line.
The car started to move and the lady jumped out at the last possible moment. The car went over the side , rolling over and over and finally coming to rest midway down the Pu’u facing uphill . Had the lady not jumped out she likely would have been seriously injured or killed.
The vehicle is stuck on the slope in the middle of the Pu’u and it is now snowing. Will it be removed?
The side of the Pu’u will be badly scared by this ‘accident’, as the vehicle is extracted.
And this is not all. On the way down, with road icing occurring all across the paved road portions in the summit, we passed other non 4 wheel drive rental vehicles on their way up. Unless the road is actually closed , no one stops them.
It is against the rules for all rental car vehicles to be on the summit access road, or at the summit
of Mauna Kea and it voids any LDW contract they have. Yet we see them every day.
Rental vehicles, and especially non 4 wheel drive types of vehicles, clog the parking area at the top each and every night and cause lots of traffic congestion. Hypoxia disoriented drivers often almost collide with walkers and situations like we saw last night also occur.
Mr. Mayor ; Isn’t it time for a NO RENTAL VEHICLES BEYOND THIS POINT – 4 WHEEL DRIVE ONLY sign to be placed next to the Office of Mauna Kea Management baseyard and at the start of the gravel portion of the road? At the point where rental vehicles are technically prohibited by the rental companies from going beyond? Cannot enforcement be directed towards this effort ?
A scoff law situation has developed and it is not being challenged. It is becoming very dangerous.
Everyone that works on the mountain thinks it’s time : The commercial drivers , the Rangers , the astronomers.
It would be a very simple, easy, low cost fix.
What say you sir?