Dead Man in the Road: A Perilous Day on the Big Island of Hawaii

“Aloha, bitch.”

As you may have read the other week, my German wife and I left our home in Hannover and returned to the States for a 5-week vacation, two of which were spent at the Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island of Hawaii. Yes, I know: we lead a terribly difficult life fraught with hardship and misery. Whatever man. Everyone deserves to indulge at least once in their lives. Sheeeit.

Anyway, our time on Hawaii wasn’t all cocktails and sunshine; there were some real left turns in there too. Here’s one highlight in particular:

Dead Man in the Road – July 13th, 2016

While driving south on Route 19 (more confusingly known as Queen Kaʻahumanu Highway), my wife and I came upon a very dead-looking cyclist sprawled out in the middle of the road — right on the divider line. His helmet and biking suit were all red and black, which looked an awful lot like blood and guts. He was facedown on the scalding hot pavement, arms and legs bent all crazy like he’d taken a vicious nosedive, his bike was off to the side — thoroughly destroyed — and the dude was not moving. Like, at all.

Being the cool, calm individuals we are, my wife and I started screaming, “OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGOD,” as I pulled over to the side of the road. For the life of me, I could not find the hazard lights of our rental car despite the fact that the button is top, front and center — bright red and literally more obvious than anything else on the dashboard — so, I decided our right turn signal would have to do and just let that bitch blink away while I scrambled to find my iPhone.

The traffic in both lanes had stopped. My wife opened the passenger door, walked around the back of our car and entered the street — mentally preparing herself for the horror show she was about to see. She was the first person to reach the biker, and she touched his shoulder and told him everything was going to be okay. (I would find out later the man had opened his eyes at that moment and asked my wife what was going on. Her shockingly beautiful face was the first thing he saw upon regaining consciousness, so he probably thought he was being welcomed to heaven by a German angel.)

At this point, a few more people were beginning to gather around him, including some lady who claimed to be a doctor, plus the man who was driving the car which struck the biker in the first place. (Again, we would find out later the biker came out of nowhere — flying down some side street right into oncoming traffic on Highway 19.) I pulled out my iPhone, totally ignoring the EMERGENCY button I’ve seen literally every single time I’ve entered my pin code to unlock my phone since 2007, and proceeded to stare blankly at my list of contacts.

Where are the numbers?! I thought, heart pounding like a sledgehammer. I know the number is 911, but how do I actually enter it? How the fuck do I dial 911?! See, I’d had no trouble entering my pin code — I do that automatically — but manually dialing a telephone number? Even a 3-character number? I never do that, so looking for the keypad button didn’t occur to me until after I’d given myself a moment to take a deep breath.

I finally found the keypad, dialed 911 and punched that mother. A woman answered the phone:

“911, which type of assistance do you require? Police, fire or ambulance?”

“Ambulance!” I shouted, thinking what we actually required was a hearse, but that option was not presented to me. The line clicked over and a dude answered the phone. “Hello, what is your emergency?”

“A biker is laying in the road! He’s either dead or unconscious. I don’t know. He’s like 60 or 70 years old. Gray hair. Definitely a silverback. His bike is hosed. I don’t– oh god, he’s starting to twitch. He’s starting to twitch! That’s either very good or very bad…”

“What is your location?” asked the man on the phone, more calmly than any man has the right to be, ever.

“Hawaii! I mean, the Big Island. Wait, we’re on Queen Kaʻmay-uh-may-uh… Queen Ko’ah-hoo… Queen– the fucking Queen Highway! Highway 19! Yes!

“Where exactly?” he asked. “What is the nearest landmark?”

“Uh, I don’t know man. We were driving south on 19. Oh shit, there’s a street sign right in front of me. We’re near the intersection of Highway 19 and Koo-ah-na… Kah-ooh-nah… Kwah-nah-nah…” and then I spelled it very loudly, very angrily, “K-A-U-N-A-APOSTROPHE-O-A DRIVE.”

“Are you on the ocean side or the land side?” he asked.

“What? I don’t know! Can’t you triangulate my shit? We’re off to the side of the road. On the right. Headed south. Highway 19 and Kauna’oa Drive! K-A-U-N-A–“

“Oh, okay. I got you. Can you tell me what’s happening now?”

“Yeah, the dude is awake. There are a bunch of people around him. Uh, he’s talking to my wife. The driver who hit him is just kind of standing there with his phone in his hand. I think he’s in shock. Some doctor lady is bracing the biker’s neck and taking his helmet off. I don’t know why. That seems like a bad idea. Anyway. Okay, uh, now he’s sitting up. His elbows and knees are all scratched to shit. Um, now they’ve got him standing up. They’re walking him to the side of the road. Okay. Uh. The road is clear. He’s just kind of standing there now…”

“Okay. We’re on the way. Thank you.”

“Wait, is that it? Do you need anything else?”

“Nope. We’re on the way.”

“Oh. Okay. Are you sure? You’re probably getting a lot of calls about this. I see other people with their cell phones out…”

“Yeah, we have multiple incident reports at your location. We’re on our way.”

“Okay. Well then… bye.”


And then the dude hung up. That was it. We continued south toward our hotel as an ambulance and three fire trucks blew past us in the opposite direction. We were so relieved the dude was okay, but my hands were still shaking by the time we got to our hotel room, where I changed into a fresh pair of undies and poured myself five fingers of Jameson.

I recorded the whole story of that crazy day as an audio file just moments after we got back, so if you’d like to hear it, press play on the YouTube video below. (You can hear my voice shaking and I’m still pretty much an incoherent mess.) ***WARNING*** This recording contains a lot of swearing:

Overall, I’m not sure how many Merkel Diamonds I can award that particular day on Hawaii in terms of relaxation, but in terms of sheer excitement? Oh yeah, 5 out of 5, baby:

Merkel Diamond from Angela Merkel, Prime Minister of Germany

As always, have an awesome day, be safe out there, and thank you for reading!


20 thoughts

  1. Sounds like a scary adventure!! Glad to hear the biker was ok, as the daughter of a cyclist who was once found in a similar state and saved by concerned passerbys not unlike yourselves, thanks for stopping!

    Sounds like Hawaii isn’t as relaxing as everyone says ;P

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t cycle; I run – and this is one of my worst nightmares. Glad things seemed to work out OK. I don’t know if you’ve posted audio before, but your voices sounded very similar to what I imagined in my head.


  3. A very long time ago, 40 years ago, I sat in a car at a red light in Phoenix, Arizona. A car coming across the intersection didn’t make it, hit the post of the traffic light and the dude flew out of the passenger window, hit the pole with his body sideways and slammed onto the sidewalk. There was the dude on the sidewalk, silent, and there was me. I walked out of my car like a zombie and started talking to the guy, figuring out he was still with us. Someone, somehow, called an ambulance, about 20 years before cell phones. It was there about 3 minutes later. Those were the longest 3 minutes of my life. I know the feeling…


  4. I really know how you fell. 15 years ago i had been on the car on the A7 between Hannover and Hamburg and then – i dont´t know how – but a car before me left the Highway, flipped over multiple times and landed on the roof. I stoped an saw the femal Driver lying on the ground outside the car bend in a yery strange ancel. I got no Handy at that time and coulnd´t remember anything from my first aid course i had to do for the driving lincens onehunderthousend years ago. I just rembered this talk to the injured and try to calm him stuff and i did this. (Dont know if she heared it, because she seemed to be unconsicous.) Thanks god in the car behind me was a off duty paramedic and he started reanimation. I think its a situation you never forget. After it, i was shaking and barley managed to drive home.
    I am happy that the biker seems to be allright.
    Greetings from Hamburg


  5. I know how you feel as well. A couple of years ago we were on one of the autobahns here in Germany. I, the passenger, was looking down at my phone and all of sudden Mr. Tipples screamed “OH MY GOD!” and slammed on the breaks while swerving over to the shoulder of the road. He managed to explain to me, in a panicky way, that a riderless motorcycle had just FLOWN right over our car. I can’t believe I didn’t see it and I also can’t believe it didn’t hit our car or any other cars. What I did see was the motorcycle on the side of the road and I was yelling “Where is the person? Where is the PERSON?” It took us a while to locate him across the rail divider on the other side of the road. By this time traffic had stopped in both directions and an ambulance got there rather quickly. I was shaking like a leaf. We left just as they were airlifting the motorcyclist away, which I don’t think boded well for him, sadly. He was also an older guy. Anyway, glad the cyclist in your story seemed to be okay and hope you got over your trauma quickly as well.


  6. I’m pretty sure your wife is the only person in the history of language who has a cute German accent. Didn’t think those existed. So as a German woman married to an American man I will make sure he never sees this video.


  7. Goodness me! Sounds awfully scary but you managed to keep it together in a real-life drama!

    Two years ago, I was sitting in the train, reading, when the woman in front of me started to roll her eyes and just keeled over. I managed to catch her before she hit the floor, and I don’t know what happened, but I just went into auto-pilot! I couldn’t remember the German emergency number and told the young girl next to her, to call the ambulance. The poor girl was shaking and almost in tears!

    Everyone was sort of staring at me, and then a young man came leaping over and asked if I needed some help, and another young lady joined me. Yes, I certainly did! I could hear commuters moaning about their late train, and this gentleman called the driver. We managed to carry the woman gently off the train, and collected her glasses, shoes, handbag, which were now scattered around the train!

    Did I know what it was at the time? No. Was I concerned about moving her? Yes. Could I stand by and let her fall to the ground? No.

    We gently laid her on the bench, put her head up, and then I held her hand and started talking gently to her while her eyes rolled, her tongued lolled, her body shook, and her teeth shattered. This all took 10 minutes, and I was cool and calm, and when the emergency boys came, I handed the woman over to them.

    I then called my husband, and burst into tears!


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