Officer on leave after fatal car crash
A Honolulu pedestrian is killed while trying to cross Ala Moana
A 73-year-old pedestrian died yesterday after she was struck by an off-duty Honolulu police officer driving eastbound on Ala Moana.
The pedestrian was identified as Ok Nam Lee, of Honolulu. The officer, a 52-year-old criminal investigation division detective, has been put on administrative leave, as is standard procedure.
The accident happened at about 5:39 a.m. near the intersection with Atkinson Drive. Traffic was light and there were overhead lights, police said, adding that speed and alcohol did not appear to be factors in the crash.
Lee was taken to the Queen's Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.
The officer was driving a 1997 Chevrolet sport utility vehicle and was Waikiki-bound, headed to a special duty assignment, police said.
Initial indications were that the pedestrian was crossing Ala Moana against the traffic signal toward the park, police said. But witnesses gave police conflicting statements about whether she was in the crosswalk and whether the traffic light was on, Police Capt. Frank Fujii said at a news conference yesterday.
The police traffic division has initiated a negligent homicide investigation into the incident, he said.
"We're very saddened by this incident," Fujii said. "It is not a matter of who's right and wrong -- somebody got killed."
He also said police officers "feel really, really bad when something like this happens. All of us join the police department to help people."
The officer in the accident, a 23-year police veteran, will be reassigned and his police powers removed pending an investigation.
The fatality was the 63rd so far this year, compared to 54 at this time in 2004.
And it was the fourth serious motor vehicle crash on Oahu and Maui since 6 p.m. Friday. In the others:
» A 17-year-old boy was flown to Queen's in critical condition after his mo-ped was struck by a car in Waianae at 6:17 p.m.
The car, driven by a 27-year-old man, was heading east on Kaneaki Street and making a left turn into Kepauala Place when the collision occurred. One passenger in the car had minor injuries.
The mo-ped's speed appeared to be a factor in the crash, police said.
» A 29-year-old Waipahu man in a Ford Taurus was critically injured and taken to Queen's after colliding with a Jeep Laredo at 8:35 p.m.
The Laredo was heading south on Nuuanu Avenue and entering the intersection at Vineyard Boulevard when struck by the Taurus, entering the intersection at Nuuanu Avenue. Speed was not a factor, but alcohol may have been a factor with the driver of the Taurus, police said.
» A 44-year-old Waimanalo woman driving a Jeep south on Kalanianaole Highway struck a 51-year-old Kailua woman in a crosswalk at Kanapuu Drive at 9:30 p.m.
The pedestrian, who was crossing the highway in the mauka direction, was taken to Queen's in critical condition. The driver of the car and two passengers were not injured. Neither speed nor alcohol appeared to be factors.
"We're asking all drivers to be careful," Fujii said. "We don't want to see any more."