KIHEI, MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - It was a horrific crash. A white pickup truck ended up, upside down on Mokulele Highway Saturday night after it side swiped a blue pickup truck. That blue truck was mangled and all three people riding in the bed, died at the scene.
25-year old Howard Pruse, 27-year old Tyree Kamaunu, and 51-year old Eric Oguma were all ejected. And now, lawmakers and law enforcement officials are calling for tougher laws for those in pickups.
"Unfortunately it takes something like this to bring public awareness to everybody of what can happen when people make that choice to ride in the back of a pickup truck," says Lt. William Gannon of the Maui Police Department's Traffic Unit.
Hawaii law currently allows people over the age of 12 to ride in a truck bed, but State Senator Lorraine Inouye, who is on the Transportation Committee, plans on introducing legislation to ban the practice altogether. Previous bills have failed.
"We just need to bite the bullet," says Inouye, "We really need to do it, at least do something this upcoming session, and I'd like the debate to continue."
She is willing to make a few exceptions. Adults who work in agriculture often need to ride in pickup beds to get to job sites. Inouye says that perhaps the law can flex for workers, during daytime hours.
"I cringe every time I see people riding in the back of a pickup truck," says former Maui Police Captain Charles Hirata, who was assigned to the Traffic Unit for years, "A lot of people say they want the freedom, (that) the government shouldn't tell people what to do, but the consequences of having to care for somebody or lose somebody is so great."
Hirata has testified in support of previous bills and plans on doing the same for future ones.