Punchbowl residents mourn ― and demand action ― after crash kills a father of 2 young sons

Elmer Milikini's sons and pregnant widow set up this memorial at the intersection of Iolani Avenue.
Published: Feb. 1, 2023 at 5:38 PM HST|Updated: Feb. 1, 2023 at 5:45 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A deadly car crash in Punchbowl over the weekend left residents shaken ― and demanding action.

Police say around 2:30 a.m. Saturday, 59-year-old Elmer Milikini was heading eastbound on Iolani Avenue when an Oahu woman tried to overtake him and sideswiped his car.

Milikini lost control and crashed into a tree.

The tree is now adorned with flowers and a note from his two young sons and pregnant widow.

Shawlea Aona, 35, was arrested at the scene for driving under the influence and first-degree negligent homicide. Police say she was speeding.

Aona’s attorney gave HNN a statement, saying she has not been charged with any criminal offense and intends to cooperate with the police as they continue their investigation.

Claire Santos lives in nearby Ka Hale Moi and says it was only a matter of time before someone would get killed in the intersection. Neighbors say speeding is a major issue, as well as multiple blind spots and the lack of sidewalks.

Santos says neighbors have been asking the city for years to install safety measures like a crosswalk, traffic signal, even a roundabout. City officials informed them speed limit signs and HPD enforcement are enough, they say.

“There’s poor poor line of sight, there’s speeding,” Santos said.

“Nothing from a safety prevention perspective happened. And it’s come to this now,.”

In 2020, speeding cars led to a crash that destroyed a home’s rock wall. Saturday’s crash damaged parked cars and the same home. A neighbor, who asked not to be identified. says she is traumatized from the incident.

“We’re definitely like losing sleep and like having nightmares of cars driving into our house,” she said.

Honolulu City Councilmember Tyler dos Santos Tam says a traffic survey will be done.

“It’s not just the speeding, we might want to look at the angles of the intersection, the signage, the condition of the sidewalks,” he said. “― It’s not going to be solved overnight, but we’re working on it.”