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Tuesday, April 5, 2005



Makakilo fatality
alarms residents

A 15-year-old boy's death has
the area calling for changes

Residents are upset about yesterday's death of a 15-year-old boy on Makakilo Drive, saying children have to race or dodge traffic to catch the bus to school.


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The victim, Nathan Curry, was struck by a truck about 7:12 a.m. while trying to get to his bus stop, almost directly across the street from his family's townhouse at Palehua Hale, 92-1014 Makakilo Drive.

Most neighbors said they heard the collision, some even waking up because the sound was so loud.

"His mother came running out. ... She was screaming, and I was trying to hold her," said Nicole Vanderveer, who lives along Makakilo Drive where the collision occurred. "It sounded like the guy hit a tree or a pole. ... I didn't think a kid could make a sound like that if he was hit."

Curry had "darted out into traffic," according to vehicular homicide investigator Sgt. William Baldwin. The boy made it past the makai-bound lanes of traffic heading downhill but forced one motorist, a 33-year-old man in a 1994 Toyota pickup truck heading up Makakilo Drive, to slam on his brakes, according to Baldwin.

Baldwin said, however, the motorist in the second mauka-bound lane, a 37-year-old Honolulu man in a 2002 Toyota Tundra, apparently did not see the boy and was unable to stop in time.

"He wasn't speeding," said Sgt. Baldwin. "We're still investigating, but it looks like he didn't see why the other guy stopped.

"Basically, if he (the victim) hadn't have run out into traffic, there wouldn't be any accident."

Curry was initially reported in critical condition but was later pronounced dead upon arrival at the St. Francis-West Medical Center. Neighbors said the victim went to Kapolei Middle School and caught the school bus across the street with many of the other children.

Those who live in the area with children complain that the bus only stops on the Ewa side of the street and that many school kids run to catch the bus because if they miss it as it is heading up Makakilo Drive, the bus driver will not pick them up on the way back down the hill.

"I see kids running, chasing the bus, because it won't stop for them once they miss it," said Janet Williams, also a Palehua Hale resident. "Mothers run across the street with their kids. ... It's terrible."

Besides children running to catch the bus, there are also Mauka Lani Elementary School students crossing the street to access a stairway that leads to school property, next to the same bus stop that Curry was trying to get to. The nearest crosswalk is where Panana Street intersects with Makakilo Drive about 50 yards away from where the accident occurred.

Mike Golojuch, a Makakilo Neighborhood Board member, said the board had asked the city for a crosswalk, but the city said crosswalks are not placed at an intersection without any traffic controls since it could be dangerous.

Golojuch said a traffic-calming project was proposed about three years ago to narrow Makakilo Drive in that area. But when the design reduced the roadway from four lanes to two, residents rejected the idea and the project died.

Golojuch suggested moving the bus stop closer to the intersections where there are crosswalks.

Michael Mayo, resident manager of Makakilo Gardens II, said, "You basically have a four-lane highway running down the length of Makakilo," likening it to Pali Highway.

"These kids have no business on the roads," Mayo said.

"I have two daughters, 10 and 15, and I drop them off at school for this very reason," said Palehua Hale resident Randy Lagasi. "This was bound to happen sooner or later.

"I think the bus should have crossing guards who come out of the bus and help the kids cross the street. ... This is too dangerous."

State Rep. Mark Moses said the problem is that the buses are too full and cannot pick up children on the way back down, leading him to believe that more school buses are needed to service the area.

"Maybe there can be a teacher or JPO (junior police officer) to direct the children," said Moses (R, Kapolei). "I'm going to talk to the superintendent's office."

This was the 22nd traffic fatality on Oahu this year compared with 18 during the same time last year.



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