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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, January 22, 2002

Latest Farrington wreck kills one

By Brandon Masuoka and Vicki Viotti
Advertiser Staff Writers

A temporary barrier separating traffic near a dangerous stretch of Farrington Highway could have prevented a fatal head-on collision on the Wai'anae Coast yesterday, a state senator and police traffic investigator said.

Police yesterday investigated a fatal accident near two of the four cars involved in the crash near Ma'ili Point.

Richard Ambo • The Honolulu Advertiser

Sen. Colleen Hanabusa (D-21st, Barbers Point, Makaha) said she plans to call the state Department of Transportation today and inquire about the status of the proposed barrier, which she has called a temporary safety fix until engineers and residents find permanent safety measures on Farrington Highway.

The Wai'anae Coast community has pleaded with state transportation officials, police and its own residents to help make Farrington Highway safer. In 2000, the latest year for which figures are available, there were 12 traffic-related deaths on Farrington Highway on the Wai'anae Coast. Many of the fatalities involved either pedestrians or drivers hitting fixed objects such as utility poles.

Yesterday, one man was killed and two were seriously injured near Ma'ili Point when a car crossed the center line of Farrington Highway and veered into oncoming traffic. The four-car collision stalled Leeward Coast traffic for more than five hours.

In 2000, three people died in two-head on collisions near Ma'ili Point.

"I still believe barriers would have prevented (yesterday's) accident," Hana-busa said. "We have only a strip of line separating traffic. What's so magical about the strip of line on the road? It's not going to stop a car from going over the center line."

Sgt. James Addison, who investigated yesterday's collision, said a barrier would have "re-directed" the car so it would not have veered into oncoming traffic. Addison said a barrier would be "a good idea to start with," but he said studies should be conducted to see the benefits and disadvantages.

Some residents have criticized the proposed temporary barriers, saying that they would be ugly and limit pedestrian crossings, Hanabusa said.

Hanabusa said eventually she wants a permanent median, landscaped with plants, to divide traffic, similar to those found on Kalaniana'ole Highway. The state recently installed rumble strips on Farrington Highway, but more safety improvements need to be done, she said.

Hanabusa said she wanted more police officers for traffic enforcement rather than traffic enforcement cameras, which she believes promote unsafe driving.

The Legislature recently appropriated $5 million for safety improvements on Farrington Highway. Hanabusa said the improvements will include a variety of changes specifically designed for trouble spots.

Yesterday's collision occurred shortly after 5 a.m. when a late-model Ford Contour heading west on Farrington Highway crossed the center line into oncoming traffic between Kaukama and Hakimo roads.

The Ford first struck a subcompact, said Lt. John Pinero of the Wai'anae district patrol division. A third car avoided the collision, but struck debris and pulled over. The driver of the third car was uninjured. The Ford also collided head-on with a fourth car, a Mitsubishi Galant, killing its driver.

The 24-year-old driver of the Ford was thrown from the car, Pinero said. He was flown to The Queen's Medical Center, where he was listed in critical condition.

The 27-year-old driver of the subcompact that took the first impact also was taken to Queen's and was listed in guarded condition.

Farrington Highway was closed between Ma'ili'ili and Hakimo roads, and traffic was rerouted onto Pa'akea Road. Addison said speed was involved in the accident, but investigators had not determined whether alcohol was a factor.

No information on the driver of the Galant was available.

Reach Brandon Masuoka at 535-8110 or bmasuoka@honoluluadvertiser.com. Reach Vicki Viotti at 525-8053 or vviotti@honoluluadvertiser.com.