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"Woman crashes through Oahu airport fence onto runway, breaching security"

Monday, September 17, 2012

EXCLUSIVE: Woman crashes through airport fence onto runway, breaching
By Keoki Kerr
KHNL-TV Ch 13 (NBC), Honolulu (HI)

KALAELOA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A mentally unstable woman drove her car
through the fence and into the runway area at Kalaeloa Airport last month,
raising questions about security at the facility that is used by the Air
Force, Air National Guard, Coast Guard and general aviation aircraft.
The incident happened shortly after 9 p.m. Aug. 7, according to spokespeople
for the state Transportation and Public Safety departments. 
Christine Keliikuli, 62, went up to the security desk at the Kalaeloa
control tower building and asked if she could get onto the airfield to see
the airplanes, said Caroline Sluyter, a spokeswoman for the Department of
Transportation, whose airports division oversees operations and security
Sluyter said when a security guard denied Keliikuli access, she got into her
white Jeep SUV and rammed her vehicle through the fence line, bending the
pole that usually locks two tall chain-link gates in place. 
The woman started driving in the direction of an Air Force C-17 jet that was
taxiing on the Kalaeloa taxiway. A private security guard from the company
Securitas got into his security truck and chased her down, using his truck
to block her vehicle from driving toward the jet, according to Toni
Schwartz, a spokeswoman for the state Public Safety Department, whose
sheriffs division handled the arrest in the case. 
Keliikuli stopped, got out of her car and lit a cigarette, according to a
sheriff's division report of the incident. She was arrested and officers
said she appeared to be mentally unbalanced, because she was talking to
Keliikuli was charged with trespassing, criminal property damage and driving
without a license. She posted bail and was released, Schwartz said.  She
posted bail, which was less than $100.
"This had the potential of being a very dangerous, devastating situation,
had there been more airplanes moving around or had she gotten closer to
certain areas," said State Sen. Will Espero (D-Ewa), who chairs the Public
Safety, Government Operations and Military Affairs Committee and co-chairs
the Transportation Committee.
While Espero believes Hawaii's airports are safe and secure, he said the
incident "has given us reason to look at our airport security and see where
we can improve it." 

"We do have very safe airports.  But one breach is all it takes for us to do
a total review of the system," he added. 

DOT spokeswoman Sluyter said, "We reviewed the incident and found the guard
followed proper procedure," Sluyter said. 
No wider review of security measures has been undertaken by the state DOT
because Sluyter said it was an "isolated incident by a woman who might have
had some issues." 
Sluyter said there are two private security guards at Kalaeloa airport 24
hours a day. The facility is surrounded by a chain-link fence and has
several locked gates which offer direct access to hangars, taxiways and
No one was injured and no aircraft were damaged.  The state DOT replaced a
metal bar from the gate that the woman ran over in the incident, officials
The C-17 aircraft was conducting night training operations with Hawaii Air
National Guard personnel on board, said a source familiar with the event The
C-17s housed at Kalaeloa are jointly operated and maintained by active duty
Air Force and Hawaii Air National Guard personnel. 
A Securitas security guard called 911 immediately after the incident, and
Honolulu police arrived at the scene but could not arrest the woman because
the incident happened on state airports property where state sheriff's
deputies had jurisdiction, a source said. 
Another source familiar with the incident said there was further
jurisdictional confusion and someone called the Federal Aviation
Administration, since the incident happened at an airport.  But the FAA said
sheriffs needed to handle the incident.
Schwartz said a sheriff's deputy was dispatched to the scene at 9:40 p.m.
and arrived at Kalaeloa at 10:04 p.m., about 25 minutes later, according to
a sheriff's report of the incident.   
"I feel that that's a little long," Espero said. "Although we did have the
Securitas security on site, I'd like to see the time between when the
sheriff's official gets to the airport, that that may be closer to 10
minutes or less." 
"We send routine patrols at various times [to Kalaeloa] but Securitas [the
private security guard company] is actually stationed" at the airfield,
Schwartz, the public safety spokeswoman said. "When law enforcement is
needed, we respond." 
A source familiar with the incident said, "She could have caused a lot of
damage to the plane," noting the C-17 aircraft costs more than $200 million.
The slightest damage could cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to
repair, the source said.  Even a slow-motion crash into the plane could have
caused one of the engines to shred pieces of the car, scattering metal,
potentially injuring anyone in the plane or on the ground nearby, the source

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