After Tuesday's fatal accident in Nuuanu, the truck driven by Edmond Schuman lay mangled on Pali Highway.

Runaway truck
had an expired
safety tag

Police investigating Tuesday’s
fatal crash arrest the driver

A truck driver who killed a 54-year-old Palama woman in a four-car traffic collision Tuesday morning was not licensed to be driving the commercial dump truck, according to sources close to the investigation.

Police arrested 32-year-old Edmond Schuman for negligent homicide Monday night but have since released him pending an investigation. Sources also said Schuman has no permanent address, and the commercial dump truck he was driving had a safety inspection sticker that has been expired since June.

Schuman had a valid driver's license but not to operate a commercial heavy truck, the sources said.

The case is being investigated by both the Honolulu Police Department and the State Department of Transportation. Transportation officials said they were involved because all vehicles 26,000 pounds and heavier need to be operated by commercially licensed drivers, and the vehicles need to be inspected, certified and properly insured.

"We're having problems with these renegade truck companies not certifying their drivers and vehicles," said Transportation spokesman Scott Ishikawa, who spoke of unlicensed commercial trucks and truck drivers in general. "They're trying to cut corners and save money in the short term, but in the long run it could be trouble."

Police looked over the vehicle wreckage yesterday as it sat in the Police Department's parking lot as evidence.

Sgt. Alan Vegas, of the police vehicular homicide section, said it appeared the town-bound 1991 International triple-axle dump truck involved in the crash may have experienced "brake failure" before it crossed into the Kailua-bound lanes of Pali Highway and collided head-on into a Mazda van, which in turn hit a Handi-Van.

The truck then veered up a grass embankment, struck a utility pole and overturned its load of rock and gravel, which spilled and struck a 2004 Lexus.

The collision killed Huong Truong, mother of 11 children, a passenger in the Mazda. The crash also critically injured Truong's husband, who was driving the van.

One of Truong's daughters said yesterday that her father is still hospitalized at the Queen's Medical Center and does not know about his wife's death.

"We didn't tell him yet," Nguyat Thi said. "He's bad."

Thi said her mother, born in Vietnam, had been very sick and did not work. She also said the family was told by police not to discuss the accident until after the investigation was completed.

Schuman and the driver and a passenger in the Handi-Van were all treated for minor injuries. The driver of the Lexus was not injured.

Schuman has a misdemeanor conviction for violating a restraining order filed by his ex-wife and two other convictions for petty misdemeanors, according to the Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center.

The truck Schuman was driving had the name "Rick's Heavy Equipment" printed on the side. According to Department of Commerce & Consumer Affairs records, the president of the company is Rick J. Martin.

The department's records also show that a complaint was filed against Martin this year for doing building contracting work without a license. The agency said there was insufficient evidence to support the charge.

However, a default judgment was entered against Martin, then doing business as Affordable Rick's Backhoe, after a 1991 complaint over unlicensed activity. Martin paid a $500 fine and restitution of $1,000.

In May, Martin applied to the Public Utilities Commission, the state agency that regulates trucking operations, for a certificate to have dump trucks operate "over irregular routes" on Oahu. His application was dismissed in August because he did not supply requested information to the commission.

On his application, Martin wrote: "I have been driving dump trucks for over 18 years. I own my own construction company and also operate heavy equipment. I've ran jobs and feel I'm very responsible person in every way."

The company listed $60,000 in assets but no ownership of any dump trucks.

Kris Nakagawa, chief legal counsel for the commission, said that if Martin was hauling materials for other people in his dump truck, he should be registered with the commission. Nakagawa said the only documentation his office could find related to Martin is the dismissed application from May.

According to documents filed with the application, Martin is president of Rick's Heavy Equipment and owns a 20 percent stake. His father, Eric Martin, is vice president and owns 80 percent.

Reached at his Kaneohe home, Eric Martin said, "My son has his business and I have mine, and they are not connected." He declined further comment. Rick Martin could not be reached for comment.

Star-Bulletin reporter Craig Gima also contributed to this report.


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