Community Calls for Action and Awareness
Pang, Gordon Yk, Honolulu Star - Advertiser
Troubled Waianae Coast residents say they've seen enough death and destruction caused by speeding and drunken drivers in their neighborhood.
About 50 Makaha residents and supporters gathered Friday afternoon at the Farrington Highway bus shelter fronting Makaha Beach where, less than two days earlier, a car plowed into the wooden structure, killing 3-year-old Ashton Brown and seriously injuring his mother and three of his siblings.
The vehicle sped away without stopping, but police said they caught the 44-year-old driver, of Lualualei, two miles away at the Makaha 7-Eleven store. Potasi S. Uta Jr. was charged with one count each of first-degree negligent homicide and failure to render aid and two counts of negligent injury. Bail was set at $100,000.
Those who gathered in Makaha on Friday said they want the police and other government officials to pay more attention to their concerns, and that they want their neighbors to be more conscious of life-altering decisions they make when they drive while drunk or are speeding.
John DeSoto, president of the Makaha Hawaiian Civic Club, said his organization decided to gather people Friday to offer community members a chance to show a unified display of frustration and urgency.
DeSoto expressed frustration at news that the man allegedly responsible for the crash was let out early on parole. Court records show that Uta has six felony convictions and six misdemeanor convictions, including a 1996 conviction for drunken driving, car theft and criminal property damage on Maui.
"We here are trying to abide by the rules and regulations, and there are people out there who are not, and they're the ones getting away with everything and creating all this chaotic stuff," said DeSoto, a former city councilman for the area.
He pointed out that a male pedestrian, 22, was killed by a motorist several miles away last year.
DeSoto and Gail Gomes, editor of the community newspaper Westside Stories, said they want the city to put more patrol officers in the area, especially at night. "We've been screaming, we've been yelling," Gomes said. "Nothing's happened."
Maj. Ray Ancheta, who heads the patrol district that stretches from Ewa to Kaena Point, said officers try to do what they can with the limited resources they have. Only about 15 to 20 officers are on patrol at any given shift in the district, about five to six from Hakimo Road to Kaena, he said. …