Those grieving after deadly crashes urge motorists to be safe, buckle up

Those grieving after deadly crashes urge motorists to be safe, buckle up
Lupe Tapeni
Lupe Tapeni

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - More than 300 people on Oahu recently received a $92 reminder to buckle up as part of the latest Click-it-or-Ticket campaign.

During the two-week enforcement effort, police use federal grant money to assign officers specifically to seat belt enforcement. But those grieving following deadly car crashes hope people will buckle up year-round.

A message of love is scrawled on a balloon next to charred car parts at a roadside memorial. Nine days after David Roberts, 33, was killed in a fiery crash, the tears haven't stopped flowing.

"The accident was a shock," Lupe Tapeni, longtime neighbor, said through tears. "He was really good."

Police say Roberts' speeding truck veered off the roadway, hit the embankment, flipped and then burst into flames. His 33-year-old girlfriend survived.

"In a split second, everything can just be lost," Tapeni said.

Investigators say Roberts wasn't wearing a seat belt and was ejected from the truck.

Police are cracking down on seat belt violations. During the first week of the new Click-it-or-Ticket campaign, officers issued 312 citations. The weekly average outside of the campaign is 55 violations.

A grieving Tapeni urges motorists to buckle up.

"It's no guarantee that you're going to live even with the seat belt, but it's just for precaution," she said. "You know, be safe on the road."

She says Roberts, a former Kahuku High football player and father of three, was excited about a food find the last time they spoke.

"(He said) I should go try the shrimp wagon. The best shrimp wagon he told me for go and check out was the one across from the Waianae police station," she said through tears. "I haven't tried it yet, but I will. If I do, it's going to be really tearful."

The Click-it-or-Ticket campaign continues until June 5th.

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