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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, July 25, 2003

Leeward tragedy brings grief and a sad lesson

The tragic collision on Farrington Highway that left a Honolulu police officer and a 10-year-old girl dead and several others injured leaves one's head swimming with emotions and concerns:

• First, it is sadness over the loss of two lives: One with her future still ahead and another, officer Ryan Goto, in the fullness of a job he loved.

Goto was a solo bike officer, among the most dangerous jobs on the police force. He was riding in formation with four other officers when they collided with a car that swerved across the median.

It was a stark reminder of the dangers faced by these officers whose mission is to keep our streets and highways safe.

• The second is a concern about the apparent cause of the accident. A box apparently flew off the back of a truck, which caused the driver behind to swerve.

It is not clear how the box came loose, but the incident underscores the importance of road safety laws, including those covering proper storage of cargo, refuse or debris as well as transport of items stored in trunks and even the transportation of surfboards.

Those laws are there for a sensible reason. This tragedy should remind us all not to be casual about such rules; they are there to save lives.

• Finally, the incident reinforces once again the importance of completing a secondary or alternative route into and out of the Leeward Coast.

Police closed Farrington after the accident, bringing traffic to a halt. While this accident happened beyond the reach of the proposed emergency road, it dramatized the vulnerability of the Leeward community to any road closure.

The city is working on a $9 million plan to link a series of back roads along the coast that could serve as an alternative route in an emergency. That plan has been in the works for three years. It is time to get the job done.