Wednesday, August 20 2014 5:43 AM EDT2014-08-20 09:43:48 GMT
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MAKAHA (HawaiiNewsNow) - "The family was waiting at the
bus stop while the father was across the street," said Lieutenant Robert
Towne with the Honolulu Police Department's Traffic Division.
Police say a suspected homeless family
was the victim of a senseless crime around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday night when an
alleged drunk driver slammed into a mother and her six children at a bus stop
on Farrington Highway in Makaha across from Kili Drive.
Delani Tahany was on her computer when
she heard the commotion.
"I heard the screeching, so you
hear that often here at this corner and then I heard an impact," said
Then Tahany and other neighbors say
they heard the badly damaged suspect vehicle, a 1994 Gold Honda Accord, flee
According to traffic investigators, a
3 year old boy died at the scene. His eleven year old sister, the eldest of the
children, was taken to the Queen's Medical Center with critical leg injuries.
Police say she may lose one or both of her legs. Two more school age children
and the 41-year old mother, were also hospitalized in serious condition.
A certified nurse's assistant, who
wished to remain unidentified, came to help at the scene. The Good Samaritan
said she immediately went to the mother when she saw she had an infant child in
a baby carrier still attached to her chest. She said the baby was unhurt, and
after identified herself to the mother, urged her to release the child to her
and others at the scene so that she and the other injured children could be
helped by paramedics who were on their way.
Police confirm that infant, another
small child and the dad who told police he had been across the street setting
up a tent, were not hurt.
At 11:45 pm, police arrested suspected
drunk driver, 44 year old Potasi Uta of Waianae near the 7-11 in Makaha. Uta
was booked at the Kapolei police station for Negligent Homicide in the First
degree, (OVUII) Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence and Accident Involving
Death. He was then taken for a required blood draw in Pearl City, before
returning to Kapolei awaiting transfer to HPD's main station.
The Department of Public Safety says
Uta was parolled just 9 days ago, on March 20, 2012 and had just cleared a drug
test this past Tuesday when he saw his parole officer for the first time.
At the scene, police took down the
broken bus stop shelter for safety after the left side suffered damaged in the
At daylight, a makeshift memorial
started to grow as word spread along the Leeward Coast.
Five-year-old Skye Rodrigues of Makaha
came down to the scene after her Grandmother told her what happened. She placed
a small stuffed rabbit near the shelter and police tape.
"I felt sad because they was
homeless," she said. "So I
said grandma, can we buy a bunny for them. So grandma said yeah, and we bought
it and brought it over here and put it down."
When I asked Skye why she picked the
little rabbit, she replied, "So they can be happy and not hurt anymore."
Skye's grandmother, Sammi Mawae of
Makaha cried when she spoke of the horrific incident.
"It's just hard. It's just..heartbroken.
It's so very sad," said Mawae.
Rebecca of Nanakuli cried as she
placed a stuffed animal and handwritten note at the scene.
"It's ridiculous. It's out of
control," she said. "We need to learn already. Its' not hard to stay
home and drink, or to get a designated driver.
Now this poor family lost their baby."
And that was the same painful reaction
that was felt by the suspect's family who came to pay their respects to the
victim's family and to publically apologize.
Chantel Garcia, daughter to Uta's
eldest brother, spoke on behalf of Uta's extended family who she said was devastated
by the news. She said Uta has eight children and four grandchildren and had
just seen him this past Sunday at a family gathering.
"From his heart and from his family's
heart, we are so sorry," said a tearful Garcia. "And he has his own
family and his own grandkids that are around the same age as these kids and I
dont want him to be looked at like he's a monster and just went out for a joy
ride. It was just so unfortunate that this had to happen."
Kea Klausmeyer-Among's daughter raced
to the scene to help the victims after hearing the crash. She complained the community
has seen this type of senseless tragedy too many times along their roadways.
She said they recently stopped a proposed bypass road from going through the
area and instead want to see improvements made to the Makaha bridges near the
bus stop fixed with new sidewalks and barriers. She said she's repaired
numerous fences due to accidents near the bridges.
Other concerned citizens suggested
speed bumps, more speed signs, and even moving the bus stop as a possible way
to help keep pedestrians and homeowners safe from the harm of irresponsible
It's a terrible turn of events that
has many residents wondering if that could have been then behind the wheel, or
them, at the bus stop.