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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, December 27, 2003

Investigators to study dump truck involved in Pali crash

By Mike Leidemann
Advertiser Transportation Writer

Using a search warrant, police and transportation investigators plan to have a mechanic examine the brakes and transmission of the dump truck involved in a fatal crash Tuesday on the Pali Highway, officials said yesterday

Investigators will examine the brakes and transmission of a dump truck involved in a fatal crash Tuesday on the Pali Highway. The truck veered into a van, killing its driver.

Jeff Widener • The Honolulu Advertiser

The truck's driver did not have a valid license for that type of vehicle, and the truck itself had a safety sticker that had expired six months earlier, police confirmed yesterday.

Investigators want to know if mechanical problems contributed to the accident, in which the 1991 International dump truck loaded with gravel veered into oncoming traffic on the Pali Highway and collided head-on with a van, said Department of Transportation spokesman Scott Ishikawa.

A woman in the van, Huong Thi Truong, 54, of Honolulu, was killed and her husband remains hospitalized at The Queen's Medical Center. The driver of the truck, Edmond H. Schuman, 32, of Kailua, was arrested on charges of negligent homicide, then released.

"The police have obtained a search warrant for the vehicle and we plan to have a mechanic examine the truck next week," Ishikawa said.

The truck, owned by Rick's Heavy Equipment of Kailua, remains at a Honolulu Police Department impound lot.

According to public records, the company did not appear to be registered with the state's Public Utility Commission as would be required if it was engaged in commercial activities. The company lists a post-office box in Kailua as its main address in several directories; the owner of the company could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Ishikawa said the state has a problem with a small group of truck company owners who do not register as required with the state Public Utilities Commission and who use drivers who do not have commercial driving licenses.

"In the long run that can cause serious problems," he said.

The Department of Transportation, which monitors commercial vehicles through its Motor Vehicle Safety Office, tries to enforce safety regulations through regular inspections set up at weigh stations on Sand Island Access Road and the area leading to Kalaeloa, Ishikawa said.

It also has several commercial vehicle inspectors who make random inspections of commercial trucks and buses, checking for proof of insurance, lack of safety inspections or other violations. Licensed commercial truck drivers also are required to pass an annual physical inspection. Inspectors can cite vehicles and their drivers and, in rare occasions, order a vehicle out of service until changes are made, he said.

Just like personal vehicles, trucks and buses over 20,000 pounds are required to pass an annual safety inspection and display a sticker on their windshield.

"The truck in Tuesday's accident had a safety inspection sticker that expired in June," Ishikawa said.

Witnesses said the truck coming down the Pali Highway on Tuesday veered into the Kailua-bound lanes somewhere past Waokanaka Street, forcing several cars to veer out of its way before it collided head-on with the Mazda van near the Queen Emma Summer Palace. The truck then veered up a grass embankment, struck a utility pole and spilled its load of gravel.

Reach Mike Leidemann at 525-5460 or mleidemann@honoluluadvertiser.com.