It's not clear how a driver for Sherwood's Tree Services lost his load as he headed into town at around 10 a.m. Thursday.
"The initial dispatch was a tow vehicle had gone off the freeway," said acting battalion Fire Chief Robert Thurston.
Fearing the worst, emergency crews responded not sure of the extent of casualties from the mishap.
The crash initially brought traffic on the H-1 Freeway, near Kaahumanu Street, to a standstill.
Crews found a flatbed trailer loaded with heavy equipment flipped on its side.
The pickup towing the load apparently went sailing off the side of the freeway and down an embankment.
The scene startled motorists up above and down below.
"We pulled up to have breakfast at Grace's and we noticed the fire truck in the parking lot,” said Larry Wilson. "There were three fire trucks and ambulance, and Honolulu police. There was a lot of activity."
The driver of the F-250 pickup truck managed to get out on his own.
But, the mess on the freeway forced the closure of two lanes on the freeway for at least three hours.
"The initial arriving crews did a good job from preventing the diesel fuel from entering the storm drain and assessing and treating the victim upon arrival," Thurston said.
Had it not been for the trees, the truck could have ended up in a nearby business center, possibly right in the middle of Dave's ice cream parlor.
Workers and customers of Dave's and Grace's Inn say they didn't hear the commotion but were later surprised when they saw how close the truck came.
The driver was sent to the hospital for treatment of his injuries that crews said didn't appear to be life threatening.
"We are very fortunate. It could have been worse,” said Thurston.