Friday, January 15, 1999

Special to the Star-Bulletin
Elizabeth Barnhill, killed yesterday while crossing
Kamehameha Highway in Laie, is shown here with her
Sunday school class at the Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-Day Saints.

Her life was
at peak when
truck ended it

The woman, 48, was to graduate
from college and looking forward
to her first grandchild

By Jaymes K. Song


AT the age of 48, Elizabeth Barnhill's new life was just starting.

She had just moved into her new ocean-view Laie home. In three weeks, she was going to be a grandmother for the first time. And the mother of five was scheduled to graduate from Brigham Young University of Hawaii in June.

It all ended yesterday morning.

Barnhill was hit and killed by a pickup truck while crossing the street to get to a bus stop, a block away from home. Witnesses told police Barnhill was in the crosswalk at Kamehameha Highway and Anemoku Street when she was hit at 6:58 a.m.

There were no signs of speeding or alcohol use, said police traffic Sgt. James Addison. The driver of the truck, a 58-year-old Laie man, was not injured.

The accident was classified as a third-degree negligent homicide case, but no arrest is expected, police said.

"She was a very sweet, friendly person," said classmate Leialoha Jenkins of Barnhill. "She's Christ-like."

Barnhill's best friend, Emma Ernestburg, said she was going ahead with their planned lunch today at the BYUH snack bar at noon. "I'm going to go sit and just think of her," Ernestburg said, tears streaming down her cheeks.

By Barry Markowitz, Special to the Star-Bulletin
Traffic investigator James Addison reviews the scene where
Elizabeth Barnhill was struck and killed by a truck, seen in the
foreground. She was crossing Kamehameha Highway in the
crosswalk across from the Laie Shopping Center.

Barnhill's oldest son Lee, 25, said residents have complained for years about the dangerous two-lane Kamehameha Highway along the Kaaawa, Laie and Kahuku coast.

The incident has police concerned for additional reasons: Barnhill's death is the second pedestrian Oahu fatality within three days under similar circumstances. And late last night, another woman was hit, the third pedestrian to be downed by a vehicle this week.

On Tuesday morning, Alice Yokoyama, 68, was killed while crossing the street to get to a bus stop in Aiea. Like Barnhill, she was hit by a pickup truck.

Last night in Maili, a 30-year-old Waianae woman crossing the street was struck by a hit-and-run driver, police said. She was discovered on the ground on Farrington Highway by an off-duty paramedic at 10:57 p.m. The driver was not found.

She was airlifted to Queen's Hospital in critical condition with a broken leg, broken back and head trauma. She was in fair condition today.

Traffic investigators advised pedestrians and motorists to not assume anyone will stop, even if they have the right of way. Look for vehicles and look for pedestrians, police said.

Three hours after yesterday's accident, just minutes after Elizabeth Barnhill's body was taken away by county medical examiners, family and friends gathered at her Laie home, mourning her death.

"My wife was expecting in three weeks," Lee Barnhill said. "It was going to be (his mother's) first grandchild -- and she was so excited about that."

He described his mother as a perfectionist who enjoyed conversing and being busy. "She enjoyed helping people," he added.

And it showed. Elizabeth Barnhill, a social work major, was involved with domestic-violence shelters, the Cub Scouts, helping Alzheimer's disease patients at senior-citizen homes, and teaching Bible study at her church.

She was killed on her way to catch a town-bound bus to her internship program at Safe Haven, a homeless shelter for the mentally ill.

"I guess she was needed somewhere else to do other things," said Ernestburg. "She's getting ready to do social work for the heavenly father now. I'm sure she will be excellent."

All her community service was done while raising three boys and two girls.

"I love her and I am also thankful for her . . . for setting such a good example and for everything she has done for us," said Lee Barnhill. "She's a super mom."

Lee said the family will overcome with guidance from their Mormon faith.

"My only regret, what if something was done like a stop light?" he said. "Maybe my mom wouldn't be dead right now."

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