East Hawaii News

Car Careens From Summit After Restroom Stop

February 21, 2013, 7:36 PM HST
* Updated February 22, 10:20 PM
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A visit to the summit of Mauna Kea turned out poorly for a tourist couple last weekend after their vehicle went cascading down a cinder slope.

Fortunately, they weren’t in the car at the time.

Stephanie Nagata, director of the Office of Mauna Kea Management, said summit rangers reported that the husband had parked the car and both got out to use the restroom.

“The next thing he saw was the car rolling down the hill,” she said.

As it made its way down the pu`u the vehicle rolled at least once, eventually landing back on its wheels.

The kapakahi (crooked) path taken by the car can be seen to the left (click to enlarge). Photo by Gumby, Native FM.

The kapakahi (crooked) path taken by the car can be seen to the left (click to enlarge). Photo by Gumby, Native FM.


Nagata said it was not known what caused the vehicle to move.


The incident happened on Sunday.

The vehicle had been rented from Alamo, which has been asked to retrieve it.

Nagata said weather conditions have prevented that from being done, and with up to a foot of snow forecast at the summit over the next day or so, it won’t likely occur anytime soon.


The car was a Nissan Altima, which has two-wheel drive. Nagata said driving anything except a four-wheel drive vehicle up the mountain is not recommended.

Parts of the road to the summit of the 13,796-foot volcano are unpaved and steep, she noted, which can make for hazardous conditions, especially during wintry weather.

And the couple? They were driven by a ranger down to the Visitor Information Station at the 9,200-foot elevation. From there they apparently caught a ride down the mountain.

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