A makeshift memorial was erected at the entrance to the Pacific Shopping Mall in Nanakuli, a few yards from the crosswalk in which a man and his 7-year-old son were fatally hit Friday evening.

Fatal Nanakuli
accident brings
safety concerns

A pedestrian and his young
son were hit by a van Friday
in a dimly lit crosswalk

Yolanda Kaina and her husband were stopped in their Jeep, about to turn right into the Tesoro station in Nanakuli when she saw, in the glow of oncoming headlights, a man and a boy standing in the crosswalk trying to cross Farrington Highway.

Matthew Brzezowski: The 7-year-old was hit and died en route to the hospital

Kaina watched as a bronze Dodge van coming from Waianae on Friday evening hit the two so hard they both landed on the van's hood.

"Then the man just flew off the hood," Kaina said yesterday. "If we had not been stopped (waiting to turn), we would have run right over him."

She added, "The van slowed and the kid just flew up in the air and landed four or five feet from us."

The man, Paul "Paulie" Brzezowski, who a friend said was celebrating his 48th birthday, died at the scene. His son, Matthew, 7, died in the ambulance en route to Waianae Comprehensive Health Center.

Friends in the Nanakuli area said the two lived in a tent on the beach with Brzezowski's wife, Donna, and a 16-year-old daughter. Friends said the father and son were on their way to the Sack 'n Save to buy a birthday cake.

The 56-year-old driver of the van has not been charged. Police said alcohol was not a factor and that speed is still being investigated.

The van, with its crumpled front end and cracked windshield, was parked in the Sack 'n Save parking lot yesterday, not far from a small makeshift shrine of pink, red and white oleander flowers, a bag of Doritos and a small scrawled message on a wooden post: "We love you Dad and Matthew."

Kaina said the driver stopped and stayed at the scene of the accident.

"He kept saying that he hit them, but that he didn't see them," said Kaina, who recalled no sound of brakes, only the sound of impact. Police said the two landed about 50 feet from the point of impact.

The accident, which occurred just after 8 p.m., has some residents angry about the poor lighting and traffic conditions along that narrow four-lane stretch of Farrington Highway in front of the Sack 'n Save.

Some complained there is no stoplight and that the street lighting, which is on only one side of the highway, is dim. Others said the lanes are too close and that a barrier of some kind is needed.

"It's really chaotic at night with people speeding," said Paul Cadell, 49. "The lighting isn't good. The police should do something."

The Dodge van that was involved in the accident was left parked yesterday at Pacific Shopping Mall. The van's 56-year-old driver has not been charged. The accident has some residents angry about poor traffic conditions along the road.

Taylor Puapuaga, pastor of the Church of the Nazarene, said: "I hate driving here at night. There's glare and the lanes are too close. And there's no partition."

Scott Ishikawa, a spokesman for the Department of Transportation, said there are plans for safety improvements for parts of Farrington Highway, but not the stretch in front of the Nanakuli Sack 'n Save. Most of the improvements, which include street lights and barriers, are planned for the area from Maili to Makaha further up the coast.

Kaina agreed that the street lights were dim, making it hard to see.

"The salt breeze makes it hazy, and people drive fast," said Kaina's husband, Gregory Gomes.

He said he was concentrating on making the turn into Tesoro safely and didn't see the Brzezowskis trying to cross the street.

"All I seen was a body fly in front of my car," he said.

Kaina said the man appeared dead and that people tried to help the boy, who had landed on his stomach. She said he was not breathing, but a woman, who had rushed to the scene to help, said he had a pulse.

Kaina watched as the woman talked on a cell phone to a police dispatcher, who gave her directions on how to revive the boy.

"Someone turned the little boy over on his back and she pumped his chest to get him breathing and someone gave him mouth-to-mouth," Kaina said. "We thought, we hoped, he had a chance."

Patrick Salas, 54, a retired city and county worker, said he had seen Brzezowski earlier in the day to celebrate his birthday. Salas said that two years ago, Brzezowski was laid off from his job as a tire repairman working at Kewalo Basin for the city and county. He said the Brzezowskis' home was a tent near the beach and that they lived on food stamps and the fish he caught.

"Paulie was a great fisherman," Salas said.

Salas said the daughter was at the scene of the accident and identified her father and brother for police.

Nancy Scheel, 47, who has lived in Nanakuli for 13 years and had met the victims on the beach, said: "It's not well lit here, and people dart across the street from the beach. Something needs to be done."

Scheel added, "Matthew had the eyes of an angel."


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