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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 1:13 p.m., Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Truck driver arrested in fatal Pali crash

By Mike Gordon, Peter Boylan and Rod Ohira
Advertiser Staff Writers

Police arrested the driver of a dump truck involved in a fatal collision yesterday on the Pali Highway on investigation of second-degree negligent homicide.

Edmond H. Schuman, 32, of Kailua was arrested a few hours after the 11:44 a.m. crash and later released. He was not available for comment today. His mother said he has no permanent address.

The truck, a 1991 International dump truck with a load of gravel, was headed toward Honolulu when it veered over an embankment that divides the highway, colliding head-on with a 1992 Mazda van, police said.

A passenger in the van, Huong Thi Truong, 54, of Honolulu, was critically injured and died at 12:15 p.m. at The Queen's Medical Center. She was the 81st traffic fatality this year, compared with 66 at the same time last year.

Sgt. Alan Vegas of the vehicular homicide section said the dump truck’s brakes may have failed and that speed also may have been a factor in the crash.

The dump truck is owned by Rick's Heavy Equipment of Kailua. No one at the company returned phone calls today.

Because the dump truck was a commercial vehicle, a state transportation investigator also went to the scene. Officials want to know when the truck was inspected, said department spokesman Scott Ishikawa.

Two other vehicles traveling behind the Mazda, one of them a city Handi-Van, were involved in the accident. Three other people were injured in the crash.

The crash closed the highway in both directions for nearly four hours, snarling traffic in the Kailua-bound direction from the Punchbowl cutoff to the Queen Emma Summer Palace.

This morning, only one of the mauka-bound lanes was open but all three townbound lanes were open.

Donnie Gates, assistant chief of city Emergency Medical Services, said all of the injured people were taken to Queen's, including one in serious condition and two others with minor injuries.

Police said the 52-year-old driver of the Mazda was in serious condition at Queen’s yesterday, but his condition was unavailable today.

Rosita Wong, a Nu'uanu resident who was directly behind the van, said she saw the tractor-trailer barreling toward her on the Kailua-bound side near Country Club Road and the palace, and immediately slammed on her brakes. She said she saw the truck hit the van and then flip over onto the grass.

Wong's windshield was shattered by flying debris.