Oahu traffic deaths
up 28%

A Kaneohe man who died
Thursday in a motorcycle accident
is the latest fatality

Oahu's traffic fatalities are up 28 percent so far this year compared with the same period last year after a 30-year-old Kaneohe man died Thursday night in a motorcycle accident.

Police said the victim, later identified as Ronald D.K. Lopes Jr., lost control of his motorcycle on the Kahuku-bound side of Kamehameha Highway near the 7-Eleven in Kaaawa about 8:45 p.m. Lopes slid to a stop, and the driver of a pickup truck traveling behind him tried to stop but hit the motorcycle, police said.

Lopes was taken to Kahuku Hospital in critical condition where he later died.

The truck driver, a 24-year-old Kaaawa man, was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, then later released without charges pending investigation. Police said speed and alcohol were factors in the crash. Lopes was not wearing a helmet.

The 63 Oahu traffic fatalities so far this year is 28 percent more than the 49 road deaths recorded during the same period last year. There were 67 traffic deaths on Oahu all last year and 80 in 2001, according to Honolulu police.

Thursday's motorcycle crash was one of three serious accidents in less than 24 hours on Oahu.

Yesterday afternoon, a man believed to be in his 20s was taken to the Queen's Medical Center by helicopter in critical condition after his car crashed and overturned on Kamehameha Highway across from Wheeler Army Airfield. His condition was later upgraded to serious, according to police.

The crash occurred about 12:30 p.m. in the northbound lane of the highway, just past the Waikalani Road intersection. Police closed the northbound lane as they investigated. The southbound lane was kept open for contraflow traffic.

Another collision took place on the town side of the Pali Highway just before the tunnel early yesterday morning and closed traffic lanes for Kailua-bound motorists.

Police found the debris of a 2002 Mazda on the road and a 52-year-old Kailua man, who was identified as the driver, in the brush on the side of the highway.

Traffic investigators said it appeared that the driver struck a utility pole in the median and then hit a tree on the side of the highway about 4:20 a.m.

Police said the victim suffered head injuries and was taken to the Queen's Medical Center in critical condition. Police said the victim was wearing a seat belt and appeared to have been drinking. Speed was not a factor in the crash, according to police.


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