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Oahu’s traffic death toll for 2010 already tops 2009 total

Police map out a plan of traffic enforcement to stop needless deaths

By Gene Park

LAST UPDATED: 12:19 a.m. HST, Dec 1, 2010


» Oahu had 55 traffic fatalities in 2009 and 43 in 2008. An earlier version of the chart at left had incorrect figures.


Oahu reached a grim milestone this past weekend when four traffic deaths brought the year’s total to 58 — more than in all of 2009.

Fifty-five people died on Oahu roads last year, and 43 in 2008.

Police Chief Louis Kealoha said the department will “redeploy our resources to focus more on traffic safety” as the department usually does during the holiday season.

“We don’t want it to be marred by more tragedies, especially traffic fatalities,” Kealoha said.

Officers will increase their focus on traffic violations from 10 p.m. through 5 a.m., he said.

All three of last weekend’s fatal crashes happened in the evening or early-morning hours.

Of the 57 crashes this year that resulted in fatalities, speeding was a factor in 24 of them.

Nineteen of this year’s traffic deaths have been pedestrians, Monica Corrales, 79, of Kalihi, who was killed crossing Likelike Highway at 5:25 a.m. Saturday. That’s nearly twice as many pedestrian deaths as 2009. Before this year, pedestrian deaths had been dropping for four consecutive years.

Kealoha said motorists need to slow down for pedestrians, and that pedestrians should be more aware of their surroundings.

“Our pedestrians should walk with a purpose in the crosswalks,” he said. “Sometimes you see them with the iPods, taking their time, but you need to be vigilant.”

Corrales was among four traffic-related deaths in the past weekend. The others:

Teavaki Leao, 16, and John Farias, 23, both from Waianae, died on Kaukonahua Road on Sunday. Leao was driving a stolen 2006 blue Scion about 2:15 a.m. when he lost control.

Marvin Lee, 66, of Waianae, died when his motorcycle skidded into the back of an officer’s police car on a straightway area of the H-1 freeway near Makakilo about 7:50 p.m. Sunday.

Traffic investigators said an officer had stopped on the freeway to assist a stalled motorist. The officer’s unmarked, 2004 Ford Explorer had its strobe lights on in the left town-bound lane just before the Campbell Industrial Park off-ramp.

Police said Lee, riding a 2004 black Harley Davidson motorcycle, skidded into the back of the Explorer. Lee, who was not wearing a helmet, was pronounced dead at Hawaii medical center West.

Police have not yet determined whether alcohol was a factor in the crashes, but Kealoha said speed was definitely a factor in Sunday’s deaths.

As of September, police officers have issued 33,165 speeding tickets. They’ve also cited 1,574 drivers for excessive speeding. Statistics for 2009 were not available yesterday.

Through mid-November, police have arrested 3,099 people for driving under the influence. In 2009, 4,023 people were arrested.

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