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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Sunday, March 6, 2005

Two teens in hospital following hit-run

 •  Police seek help

By Dan Nakaso
Advertiser Staff Writer

Honolulu police were looking for a hit-and-run driver last night who struck two teenage girls in a crosswalk in the middle of busy McCully Street, then drove away with a badly smashed windshield.

A police officer examines the scene of the hit and run in McCully that left two people hospitalized. A slipper of one victim landed on the car of a witness who was waiting for the two teens to cross the street.

Andrew Shimabuku • The Honolulu Advertiser

Witnesses said the lone, male driver was in a beige or gold compact car, possibly a Nissan, with a license plate of "MYR," or something similar.

Honolulu traffic investigators said one of the girls is 14 and the other 15. They were taken to The Queen's Medical Center in the same ambulance.

One of the girls was identified as Amber Wataru. Relatives said she lives in the McCully area near the scene of the accident.

"One of the kids had internal head and facial injuries," said Kaipo Asing, field operations supervisor for the city's Emergency Medical Services, who visited Queen's last night for an update. "She's in critical (condition) but is going to be OK. The other has shoulder and pelvis injuries and is in good condition. They're both going to be all right. Their conditions are getting better."

Witnesses said the girls entered the crosswalk in heavy traffic against a red light, 'ewa bound on Algaroba Street. The hit-and-run driver, police said, appeared to have a green light as he headed makai at 4:10 p.m. on McCully.

National Guard Spc. Molly Murphy, who saw the hit-and-run while waiting at the intersection, said the vehicle was going fast when it struck the two teenagers.

Andrew Shimabuku • The Honolulu Advertiser

Investigators were looking at the possibility that the car was stolen because the description of the license plate did not match the description of the registered car, said Honolulu Police Sgt. Glenn Maekawa.

Spc. Molly Murphy of the Hawai'i National Guard was stuck behind a Handi-Van in the intersection of McCully and Algaroba streets, headed mauka on McCully, when the girls crossed in front of her.

Police said the girls did not wait for the light to turn green and entered the crosswalk. They were then hit by the driver, who was in the lane closest to the double yellow lines.

"That car was driving so fast" when it struck the girls, Murphy said. "Then it just took off."

The girls were knocked about five feet through the air and landed makai of the intersection.

One of their blue rubber slippers flew onto the hood of Murphy's blue, 1996 Ford Mustang. A white slipper, with a clear strap, landed in the street.

Murphy, a 21-year-old mechanic, had just returned from Iraq on Tuesday with the 193rd Aviation Regiment and was driving to meet her family for a lu'au at Paradise Cove.

Instead, her Mustang remained in the intersection yesterday, with the front wheels in the crosswalk, as investigators gathered evidence on and around the car. Police closed McCully from South King Street to Kapi'olani Boulevard to conduct their investigation.

Mathew Torres of Hilo, Hawai'i, had just finished eating at Camellia Buffet with seven members of his family. They were walking to their parked van when they heard the sound of screeching tires, followed by the collision.

"We heard the screech of the car and then the bang," Torres said. "We heard the boom. The girls were just lying there on the road, rolling on the road."

The Torres family, Murphy and others huddled around the girls, trying to keep them calm.

The girls were both conscious and Murphy kept asking them for their names. One of them tried to speak, Murphy said, but could not clearly answer.

Reach Dan Nakaso at dnakaso@honoluluadvertiser.com or at 525-8085.

• • •

Police seek help

Traffic investigators last night asked for the public's help in locating the car that hit the girls, which has extensive windshield damage. Call 529-3499 and ask for Officer Dennis Tamanaha.

Bill favors pedestrians

A bill introduced in the Legislature this year would require drivers on undivided streets to stop as soon as a person enters the crosswalk and wait until the person is on the opposite curb before moving on. On a divided street, such as Vineyard Boulevard, the driver on the pedestrian side of the road would have to stop and wait until the pedestrian reaches the median.

The bill was introduced because Hawai'i has one of the highest pedestrian accident rates in the country. In 2003, Hawai'i ranked No. 5 in the nation in per-capita pedestrian deaths and No. 1 in terms of the percentage of all fatal accidents that involved pedestrians.

But only 19 percent of the 57 pedestrians killed in Hawai'i in a recent two-year span were in a crosswalk at the time of the accident.

More than two-thirds of the fatal accidents happened when the pedestrian was walking on or near a roadway outside a crosswalk or where none was available.