Heads up, drivers: That pedestrian might be a plainclothes officer

After more pedestrian deaths, HPD is dialing up enforcement.
The number of pedestrian deaths on Oahu this year continues to rise, despite awareness efforts.
The number of pedestrian deaths on Oahu this year continues to rise, despite awareness efforts.(Hawaii News Now)
Published: Oct. 1, 2018 at 10:17 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Look out for one another.

That’s the message police and pedestrian safety advocates have for drivers and walkers after a deadly weekend ― and a deadly year ― on Hawaii roads.

Two more pedestrians were killed on Oahu over the weekend.

The total number of pedestrians killed so far this year: 23. That’s up from four at the same time last year and 17 at the same time in 2016.

Statewide, 89 people have died on roadways so far this year ― and 31 of those are pedestrians.

At the same time last year, 78 people had died on Hawaii roads but just five were pedestrians.

On the Neighbor Islands, the latest pedestrian death happened Sunday night in Kalaheo.

Police said an officer was driving home about 11:10 p.m. on Halewili Road when he discovered a man’s body on the road. An investigation found the man, in his 20s, was walking eastbound on the road when he was hit.

The vehicle that hit the man fled the scene.

The pedestrian was pronounced dead at Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital.

“Don’t be in such a rush to get everywhere. Really be aware of your surroundings and be considerate of other people who are on the road,” said Lisa Hyatt.

Hyatt lost her father on Sunday while he was walking his dog in Mokuleia. Doctor Eugene Chin, 76, was killed on Sunday when a driver of a white sedan hit him then fled the scene.

Police have recovered the suspect car but want witnesses to help build a case for arrest.

On Saturday, a 70-year old bicyclist was struck in another hit-and-run crash in Waikiki.

A few hours later that day, a 54-year-old man died after being struck by a vehicle near Queen’s Medical Center on Lauhala Street.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said the fatalities over the weekend “broke his heart.”

"We’re gonna look at what else can we do. We are putting in LED street lights around the whole island and I’m hoping at least at night...they’re going to be much brighter and that people driving will see pedestrians on the road,” Caldwell said.

In a news conference Monday, Honolulu police made a public appeal to drivers and pedestrians to look out for one another. They also pledged to be out in greater numbers to ticket those violating pedestrian safety laws.

Lt. Ben Moszkowicz, of the HPD’s Traffic Division, said the difficulty this year is that the typical prevention messages might not apply.

Of the 23 pedestrians killed, just six were in crosswalks.

“We have had at least three that have been negligent homicide, four where we’ve had pedestrians on the freeway,” he said. “Two in the last two weeks where we had someone laying on the ground at the entrance to a parking garage.”

He added, “It’s kind of hard to nail down. It’s hard to say there’s any one particular factor we can address. That being said, we are stepping up enforcement efforts.”

Those enforcement efforts are set to happen daily.

In Hawaii Kai on Monday, plainclothes officers were walking into marked crosswalks to ensure drivers stopped. Of 30 people who were pulled over, 13 were issued citations.

Lance Rae, of Walk Wise Hawaii, said the no. 1 reason for pedestrian crashes is “inattentive behavior, both on the part of the driver and the pedestrian.”

“We need to change that,” he said.

Copyright 2018 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.