Farmers’ market death prompts organizers to rethink safety procedures

The Hawaii Farm Bureau says the farmer’s market at Kapiolani Community College will be held this Saturday after a deadly crash shut it down last weekend.

As vendors were setting up last Saturday, a Mao Organic Farms truck hit several people and killed 27-year-old Annie Runland. Investigators are still trying to figure out if the truck suffered mechanical failure.

Organizers of the KCC Farmers’ Market are discussing what changes can be made when vendors are setting up to make the event safer. Organizers of other farmers’ markets on Oahu are also looking at their setup procedures, hoping to prevent such a tragic accident.

The Farm Lovers Farmers’ Markets holds events at Ward Warehouse, Pearlridge, Kailua and Haleiwa. When asked about rules on trucks backing up, organizer Pamela Boyar said, “at this point we’ve created a new rule that says if anybody’s going to back up, they have to have somebody behind them. So we’re now implementing that, we’ve sent an email to all of our vendors.”

Boyar points out that all vendors are required to know five pages of safety rules before they’re allowed in, and there is a cut-off point before the market opens when trucks are not allowed in the market. “After a certain time the vendors have to walk their products in if they do not get there on time,” Boyar said.

The owner of the restaurant that Runland was working for says she would like organizers of the KCC Farmer’s Market to make some changes, because there is a mad scramble when vendors are setting up. Vendors are allowed to set up at 5:30 a.m., which is an hour and a half before the market opens. Sylvia Thompson, owner of Greens and Vines restaurant, says more setup time would allow the trucks to stagger in the parking lot at different times.

In a statement, the University of Hawaii says it cannot comment on the future of the KCC farmers’ market until the Honolulu Police Department completes its investigation.

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