CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Veronica Souza escorted fellow Makaha Surfside tenant Robert McLennan through a crosswalk fronting the complex yesterday, a day after Carl Johansen was hit and killed. CLICK FOR LARGE
Makaha residents push for traffic light
Makaha Surfside tenants say they live in daily fear of speeders
Residents of the Makaha Surfside apartments, galvanized by the hit-and-run death of a 63-year-old neighbor, are pushing for a traffic signal on a busy stretch of Farrington Highway, where thieves have stolen two sets of crosswalk signals.
Carl Johansen, a fellow resident, was killed Monday night after being struck in an area that has no traffic lights, just outside the large apartment complex.
Yesterday morning, security guards at the gated complex were asking residents to sign a petition to get a traffic signal installed at the intersection of Farrington Highway and Alawa Place.
Two bus stops are about 200 feet away from the apartment entrance and the crosswalk across Farrington Highway. Longtime residents, including one woman who was hit in the crosswalk, said they live in daily fear of speeding motorists.
"We're now calling it death row," apartment General Manager Alan Marx said yesterday. "I'm very concerned for my residents, and that's why I'm starting this petition."
The petition asks the state for traffic lights and more lighting, and asks why blinking crosswalk lights were removed. The lights were removed, state officials said, but not by them.
The state Department of Transportation installed blinking crosswalk lights at the intersection five years ago, said spokesman Scott Ishikawa.
They were ripped out one week later. Later, the state installed new lights, this time bolting them into the pavement. Those lights were also ripped out by apparent vandals, he said.
"They chipped the pavement and pried them out," Ishikawa said. "I don't know why they would do it. It's not something you can plug into an outlet and use at home."
Installing those lights costs $50,000 each, which means the state spent $100,000 on lights people never got a chance to use. Ishikawa said the state will look at the residents' request and look at other options.
But lighting on the makai side of the highway, where the Makaha Surfside is, was improved in an $8 million project.
"Some bulbs may need to be replaced, and we'll look at that," Ishikawa said.
Resident Joel Kepa, 49, is on crutches and considers it a daily life-or-death struggle as he crosses Farrington Highway after getting off the bus.
Kepa said he has no idea why people do not stop for him when he is in the crosswalk. Because it is a school zone, the speed limit is 25 mph, but he said drivers often hit 50 or 60 mph.
"If you not a fast runner, you a goner," Kepa said. "This is a death zone right here. They gotta put a stoplight. I really feel sorry for (Johansen)."
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Jamie Lozano comforted Kelly Ioane yesterday after Ioane learned that a Makaha Surfside neighbor, Carl Johansen, was killed Monday night in a hit-and-run. Ioane, 49, was hit last year by a car as she was in a crosswalk close to where Johansen was struck. CLICK FOR LARGE
Johansen is Oahu's 17th traffic fatality and the ninth pedestrian fatality so far this year, as opposed to nine traffic fatalities at this time last year.
His family could not be reached for comment.
Police said that at about 6:50 p.m. Monday, he was crossing Farrington in the makai direction toward the apartments and was hit by a town-bound car. He was not in a crosswalk, but was near the bus stop, police said.
Witnesses initially described the vehicle that hit Johansen as a dark blue or green four-door Honda, but police said they are no longer sure, and it might have been a larger vehicle.
Makaha Surfside resident Kelly R. Ioane, 49, knows well the dangers of crossing Farrington Highway. She was hit by a driver in October while she was in the crosswalk.
Cars stopped for her as she made eye contact. However, another driver tried to pass the stopped cars and sent Ioane flying about 15 feet back. Her legs were broken, and it is uncertain whether she will ever walk again.
"I took a few steps, and it felt like I was home free," Ioane said. "Then I saw a white blur. The doctor said the only thing that saved me was that I put my right arm up."
A metal shaft is the only thing now keeping her right leg together. She described herself as an independent woman. Now she hates asking others to help push her across the street in her wheelchair.
"This is the most messed up I've ever been in my life," Ioane said with a rueful laugh, burying her face in her hands. "If I don't laugh, I'll just disintegrate into tears."
Ioane did shed tears when she was told that Johansen, affectionately called "Pinky," was the one who was killed Monday.
"Oh my God, they're killing people out here," Ioane said. "We need to put a stoplight there. It's criminal, it's horrible."