Ban truck-bed riders, officials say

Honolulu Star Advertiser - June 18, 2013
By: 
Gregg K. Kakesako / Amy Busek

The driver of a pickup truck that crashed Saturday near Makua Cave, killing a male and seriously injuring four teenagers, appeared in court Monday on minor, unrelated driving infractions.
Because the accident involved passengers in the truck's bed, two state senators said they will press again for passage of a bill that would prohibit riding in the back of trucks except in very limited situations.
Kamealohanakekaiau Wilbur-Delima, 18, appeared in Hono¬lulu District Court on four bench warrants related to driving without a license and other misdemeanors. He remained in custody, unable to post $1,250 bail for those charges.

Wilbur-Delima remained under investigation for negligent homicide and first-degree accidental death tied to Saturday's crash. Charges have not been filed in that case.
Police said the truck was weaving and speeding as it traveled north on Farrington Highway. It went off the road, hit a concrete piling and burst into flames about a half-mile north of Makua Cave just after midnight.

Police on Saturday said 12 people were in the truck — seven in the two-seat crew cab and five in the truck bed. Police Maj. Kurt Ken¬dro, head of the department's Traffic Division, said Monday that police are unsure how many people were in the truck because many ran away after the crash.

The body of an unidentified male was found outside the truck, police said Monday. The Medical Examiner's Office said because of the condition of the body, officials will need to use dental records to identify the victim.

Paramedics took three girls, ages 13, 14 and 15, and a 16-year-old boy to a hospital in serious condition. Ken¬dro said some of them had been released from the hospital, but did not provide details.
Wilbur-Delima turned himself in at the main police station at 11:40 a.m. Saturday, nearly 12 hours after the crash. "A blood draw (to determine impairment) was not done as we would normally do after a negligent homicide" because of the time elapsed, Kendro said.

State Sens. Will Espero and Mike Gabbard said they will try again next year for passage of Senate Bill 692, which they introduced, which would prohibit riding in a pickup truck bed except in life-threatening emergencies and in authorized parades. The bill would apply only to Oahu.

State law bans children 12 and younger from riding in a truck bed but allows older people in the back if the cab is full and the sides and tailgate are secured.
"When it comes to safety, we passed legislation that says that everyone inside the vehicle must be buckled up," said Espero (D, Ewa Beach-Iroquois Point), referring to a new seat belt law. "The irony is, we allow people to ride in the back of a pickup truck completely unsecured."

The bill wasn't viewed favorably by neighbor island lawmakers, citing the need for families in rural communities to get around, he said.
"We need to have a very serious conversation about this," Gabbard said. "Hopefully this will happen this coming session."

The senators said they would consider steps short of an outright ban, such as allowing people to ride in secured seats specifically designed for truck beds, or raising the cutoff age to 18 from 12.
Kendro said at a news conference that it's ironic that motorists are required to tether their animals riding in the back of a truck but that there are no safety measures for people.

Police support any legislation that increases auto safety, he said.

"Having passengers in a pickup truck certainly is dangerous," he said.