Student's accident blamed on school bus cuts - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Student's accident blamed on school bus cuts

Christopher Baniaga Christopher Baniaga
Danny Carinio Danny Carinio
Bert Charlton Bert Charlton

A James Campbell High School student is hospitalized in bad shape after getting hit by a garbage truck.  It's the first serious accident linked to the recent school bus cuts.

Christopher Baniaga, 15, was riding his bike to school September 13. He was going down Tenney Street in the Ewa Villages neighborhood.  A garbage truck was going in the same direction. The boy went straight. The garbage truck turned left on Nale Street and that is where they met.

"All the sudden (the truck driver) takes a left and (the victim) is on the same side and ends up being dragged from the side of the truck," said Danny Carinio, witness and neighbor. "I saw the kid on the ground. He was bleeding."

"It was horrible. I was in tears walking away from that the other day. Just someone else's kid and the fear, he was all alone and didn't even have his parents there. It was pretty scary," said Bert Charlton, witness and neighbor.

Baniaga was rushed to Queen's Medical Center with a collapsed lung and broken arm, leg and tailbone.  He is a sophomore at James Campbell High School. His family says he used to catch the school bus at the Ewa Village Golf Course around the corner from his house.  But budget cuts forced the Department of Education to cut or change bus routes.  So this year he's made the 4.5 mile bike ride to school just like many others.

"The bus got cut and my kids ride their bike to Campbell too," said Charlton, who has two kids at Campbell High. "That's a long ride. It takes them about 40 minutes or so."

School busses are the safest way for kids to get to school.  School board members worried accidents would happen without them.  But cuts had to be made.  The DOE does give city bus passes to students.  We saw some elementary school kids riding TheBus.  But other parents say the city bus is overcrowded and not safe with dozens of unsupervised kids at times misbehaving.

"That was something my wife and I talked about that we'd rather not take the public bus. I'd rather have them ride their bike," said Charlton, whose wife rode the city bus with his kids to school to experience what kids go through. "There are quite a lot of rough kids over there."

As for the garbage truck driver, the city says he is a long time employee and now on administrative leave until an internal investigation is complete.

Neighbors in the area of the accident say garbage truck drivers often speed despite the 15 mile per hour speed limit or they don't stop at stop signs.  They also say the next pickup after the accident the truck driver still sped through the neighborhood.

"They barely look left or right. They just kind of go right through it and turn right or left. So it's really easy to get hit by a car on a bicycle," said Charlton. "They go fast through here."

"They're always rushing from spot to spot," said Carinio.

And the Baniaga's, the mother is missing work and with rising medical bills they're unsure what's around the corner.

"One morning you going to school and everything changes," said Carinio.

Baniaga was moved out of the ICU Monday evening four days after the accident. He was wearing his bike helmet at the time of the accident which witnesses say likely saved his life.


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