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Death of truck-bed rider spurs calls for more safety


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POSTED: Saturday, May 08, 2010

An 18-year-old woman was killed after she was thrown from a pickup truck in Kalaeloa yesterday, renewing concerns about the safety of passengers riding in truck beds.

Her death is the second truck-bed passenger fatality on Oahu this year. In March, 13-year-old Kaaikalau Kamakea-Naluai was killed after he was thrown from a truck in Waimanalo after the vehicle was broadsided by a sedan on Kalanianaole Highway.

The current law allows passengers except for children 12 and under to ride in the truck bed. But bills calling for a complete ban have died at the state Legislature.

"It's apparent the law should be changed," said state Sen. Will Espero (D, Ewa-Honouliuli-Ewa Beach). "It could have been prevented."

The victim in yesterday's crash was identified as Melissa K. Miranda of Waipahu, according to the Medical Examiner's Office.

"[Preview]"  Kalaeloa car crash throws 8 teens, kills 1
 

One teenager was killed in a car crash along a dark stretch of roadway in Kalaeloa.

 

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A bouquet of flowers was placed at the Roosevelt Avenue scene yesterday. Pieces of glass were strewn on the grassy area near the roadway along with a few pairs of women's slippers.

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Police said an 18-year-old female driver was traveling east on Roosevelt Avenue at about 1:30 a.m. yesterday in a brown 2005 pickup truck when she lost control. The vehicle veered off the road into a sidewalk. She attempted to drive back onto the roadway when the truck flipped over near Bataan Street. Tire skid marks on the sidewalk and traction marks in the adjacent grassy area were seen.

Police said six passengers in the truck bed were thrown. Miranda, who suffered head injuries, was pronounced dead at the scene at 2:17 a.m.

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The driver and three other passengers—an 18-year-old man, an 18-year-old woman and a 17-year-old female passenger seated in the cab—were taken by ambulance to the Queen's Medical Center in serious condition. A 17-year-old female passenger ejected from the truck was taken to the hospital in critical condition.

Police said two other passengers, a 17-year-old girl and 17-year-old boy, also were ejected from the vehicle; however, they were not taken to the hospital.

Speed was a factor, police said. The 18-year-old driver was arrested on suspicion of first-degree negligent homicide. She was released pending further investigation.

Miranda's death is the year's 22nd traffic-related fatality on Oahu, compared with 25 at the same time last year.

Kurt Fevella, president of the Ewa Beach Lions Club and a member of the Ewa Neighborhood Board, said he plans to talk to coordinators of "Drive Safe for Ewa" to address the speeding problem on the roadway. The long stretch is also not well lit at night.

Two teenagers died four years ago after the speeding car they were in flew off the end of Roosevelt Avenue and crashed in a canal. Two other occupants, the driver and another passenger, suffered injuries in the crash, police said, and alcohol was also a factor.