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Saturday, November 25, 2000

Pedestrian dies
where traffic light
was sought

The city had previously said
that nearby signals, inadequate
foot traffic and a lack of fatalities
meant a light was not justified

By Rosemarie Bernardo

After a 68-year-old man was killed crossing North King Street, staff at the nearby Kalihi-Palama Health Center renewed a call for a traffic light at a nearby crosswalk.

Taisi Fautanu died yesterday from injuries received when he was struck by a van as he tried to cross North King Street near Peterson Lane at 10:51 a.m.

map Fautanu was crossing midblock, out of the crosswalk. He died at Queen's Medical Center at 11:31 a.m.

Fautanu is the first fatality in the area, but there have been at least two other major pedestrian accidents in the past two years.

Health center staffers have gathered nearly 200 signatures for a petition calling on the city Department of Transportation Services to install a stoplight in the area.

Dr. Michael Walter of the Kalihi-Palama Health Center said, "It's going to happen again if nothing is done."

Walter said that during the summer a woman was struck at a nearby crosswalk and was thrown through the vehicle's windshield. Last year, a little boy was struck by a vehicle at the crosswalk on Peterson Lane, said Lois Arakaki, health educator of the Women, Infant and Children Program on North King Street.

May Akamine, executive director of the health center at 915 N. King St., said she was earlier told by city employees that there are already two nearby traffic lights, not enough foot traffic and no fatal accidents in the area to justify installing a traffic light.

Walter said, "It's been three or four months since we talked to the city, and there has been no action."

Akamine plans to contact the mayor's office on Monday.

Robert Hashimoto, an employee at the Women, Infant and Children Program, said, "I can see the city's reluctance because there's another one by the school that's a block away."

City Transportation Director Cheryl Soon said, "We certainly do want to take a look at the situation and see what we can recommend.

By Ronen Zilberman, Star-Bulletin
Two other pedestrians have been struck at or near the
intersection of North King Street and Peterson
Lane over the past two years.

"We're very saddened for any fatality. Our hearts go out to their family."

A yellow flashing light hangs above the crosswalk, and a crosswalk sign is posted on the corner of Peterson Lane to warn drivers to slow down.

Hashimoto said: "The flashing light doesn't really catch your eye. A couple of times, I almost got hit."

Arakaki said, "It's not slowing the traffic down."

Store clerk Jaime Go of the Palama Grocery, Liquor and Vegetable Store on North King Street, said, "It's not a freeway, but the way they drive, it's like a freeway."

Fautanu's niece, Leila Minute, said her uncle was trying to get to a family member's house on Kokea Street when he was struck by the van.

"Because that crosswalk is often used by pedestrians using the clinic, I really feel they should put a traffic light for safe crossing for kids and adults," said Minute.

"It's a busy area. I feel the city should have been doing something to prevent this from happening.

"Because of my uncle, I'm hoping the city will do something about it to prevent other people from getting in accidents," Minute said.

"He was a good man."

Marissa Delacruz, health educator of the Women, Infant and Children Program, saw Fautanu roll to the ground after he was struck by the van.

"I hope they would put a traffic light there," Delacruz said. "That would be our Christmas present for our patients, for the community and for us." An autopsy will be done Monday.

This is the 60th traffic fatality on Oahu this year. The driver of the van, a 24-year-old Oahu resident, was not injured.

E-mail to City Desk

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