Wednesday, April 6, 2005

Dena Ackerman shows a portrait of her son, Nathan Curry, who was killed Monday.

2 bus stops
proposed after
boy’s traffic death

Residents say students
should not have to
cross Makakilo Drive

Fifteen-year-old Nathan Curry, who was killed crossing Makakilo Drive to catch a school bus on Monday morning, always used to ask, "What can I do to change things?" his mother said.

Dena Ackerman said she hopes his death will lead to changes that might save other children's lives.

Schools Superintendent Patricia Hamamoto announced yesterday that the Department of Education has proposed adding two school bus stops onto the Waianae side of Makakilo Drive and moving the current bus stop closer to a crosswalk. The changes are intended to prevent other schoolchildren from crossing in the middle of Makakilo Drive.


Curry, a Kapolei Middle School eighth-grader, was struck by a pickup truck as he crossed the four-lane road to catch a school bus Monday morning.

A police traffic investigator said Curry "darted out" into traffic, causing the driver of a pickup truck heading up Makakilo Drive to slam on his brakes. A second motorist driving a Toyota Tundra pickup truck apparently didn't see Curry and struck him, police said.

Residents say students often run across Makakilo Drive outside the crosswalks to catch the bus, which does not stop on the downhill side of the road. Ackerman said she was pleased that the state is making changes because of her son's death.

"It's too late for him, and I don't want it to be too late for somebody else's child," Ackerman said last night.

But she said that much more needs to be done, especially to protect Mauka Lani Elementary School students crossing Makakilo Drive to get to a stairway that leads to the school.

Ackerman said she will participate in a community rally on Friday to ask motorists to slow down along Makakilo Drive.

Police have said the driver of the Toyota pickup was not speeding.

Ackerman said she believes the truck was speeding, based on her son's fatal injuries and because his belongings were strewn across the roadway. Ackerman said her son did not dart across the road, as police have said.

Curry was always concerned about crossing safely and was not rushing to catch the bus, having left the house well before the bus arrived, his parents said.

Ackerman also noted that motorists don't stop for school buses despite the stop signs, but drive right around them.

The Department of Education plans to move the current Makakilo Drive bus stop (on the uphill side) closer to one of the intersections, and to add two test-pilot bus stops on the downhill side, near the intersections of Palahia and Panana streets.

Department officials issued a statement reminding drivers that it is illegal to overtake or pass a school bus when its visual signals are active. They also urged parents to encourage their children to use marked crosswalks.

Rep. Mark Moses has called a meeting tomorrow for department officials, police, City Council, city planners, the city transportation director and resident managers from the area.

Ackerman said the outpouring of community concern has been overwhelming. People have left balloons, flowers and even a baseball glove behind their townhouse on Makakilo Drive.

Two boys who teased her son came to her home to apologize. "I just put my arms around them," she said. "You don't realize how many people you have in your community. It's been a comfort."

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