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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, May 24, 2002

Jaywalking accident prompts warning

By Mike Gordon
Advertiser Staff Writer

Royal Elementary School principal Sandra Ishihara-Shibata and Officer Mel Andres spoke about the dangers of jaywalking yesterday.

Richard Ambo • The Honolulu Advertiser

The accident was Sandra Ishihara-Shibata's worst fear: two children jaywalking across Punchbowl Street and into the path of a sport utility vehicle fresh from the nearby H-1 Freeway off-ramp.

The children, both girls, were struck so hard in the 5 p.m. accident Wednesday that they lay motionless on the street for several minutes. They were taken to The Queen's Medical Center in critical condition, but improved yesterday to fair.

The girls, ages 9 and 12, were alone and headed toward Royal Elementary School when they were hit in the makai-bound lane between Vineyard and the freeway, police said.

The older girl is a fifth-grader at the school.

No charges are being considered against the driver of the Isuzu SUV that hit the girls, police said yesterday. The driver told investigators that he didn't see the girls as he exited from the freeway and there is no crosswalk where the accident occurred.

Ishihara-Shibata, principal of Royal, said she often lectures students about the dangers of jaywalking, especially across Punchbowl.

Jaywalking happens so frequently near her school — often with parents dragging their children behind them, she said — that her crossing guards keep a log of those who do it and then try to contact them later.

"It's really, really dangerous," she said. "We keep asking the students, asking their parents not to jaywalk."

Yesterday, she took her message to the classrooms via closed-circuit TV. She was joined by Officer Mel Andres of the Honolulu Police Department..

"Some of your parents, I think, need to be reminded of how important it is to be safe on the streets," Ishihara-Shibata said. "They are older but some get lazy and don't want to use the crosswalks. Let's educate them."

She said she would send the students home with the same traffic-safety brochure she gave them earlier in the school year.

Andres reminded the children that the fine for jaywalking ranges from $77 to $102..

"While you're in the crosswalk never assume the drivers can see you," Andres said. "There is no invisible shield that will pop up and protect you."

Make eye contact with oncoming drivers, don't run because you might fall and a driver won't see you, and "if the sign says 'Don't Walk,' don't walk," Andres said.