Honolulu police shut down Dole Street for several hours following a deadly crash Tuesday afternoon.
The crash was reported near the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s William S. Richardson School of Law at 1:48 p.m.
According to police, two mopeds were traveling eastbound on Dole Street at a high rate of speed.
“One of the mopeds came to a complete stop. He saw a female pedestrian crossing the street,” said Lt. Carlene Lau, HPD Traffic Division. “The second moped was unable to stop in time and rear-ended the front moped. He went over the handle bars and suffered a head injury.”
Gian Fazzari was on the first moped. He says he and his friend were heading from Tantalus to the victim’s house.
“He didn’t see the pedestrian and he reared me from behind and we both fell down and everything kind of went black,” Fazzari told KHON2. The 18-year-old said they were obeying the speed limit. “I’m not injured at all. I don’t know why.”
The injured rider was hospitalized in critical condition on advanced life support, and later died. The Honolulu medical examiner identified him as Lee How, 22.
The pedestrian was not hurt. Police say the driver of a van who witnessed the crash stopped, but was not involved.
Fazzari says they do not attend UH, but live in the area.
“We just ride here to go back to his house. Two minutes, this wouldn’t have happened. Everything would have been good,” Fazzari said. “He was my best friend. I love him so much.”
The road was reopened at around 4:12 p.m.
Neither moped rider was wearing a helmet, police said. Hawaii law does not require moped riders to wear helmets.
Police say there have been five moped fatalities so far in 2016, including Tuesday’s incident, compared to one at the same time last year and four in 2014.
“It’s so important for everybody — pedestrians, motorcyclists, moped riders, and bicyclists — all to slow down, to be aware of when they’re crossing the streets, when they’re approaching crosswalks, to look around and take notice of other people that are around them and be prepared to stop,” Lau stressed.
The tragedy is alarming for UH students who rely on mopeds as a primary mode of transportation.
Riders we spoke with say mopeds are a convenient and cost-effective way to get around campus, especially since parking is so limited.
When something tragic like this happens, word travels fast.
“I heard about it through a text message. It was a family text. Right after I heard about it, my family was like, ‘Where are you?'” said Elizabeth Lindsey.
“It was pretty heavy. You never want to see stuff like that,” said Thomas Lindsey.
The incident also raises questions about whether riders should wear helmets.
Sen. Josh Green has been trying to pass a law to require moped and motorcycle riders to wear helmets. He says he will definitely make it a priority in next year’s legislative session.
He adds that he is willing to compromise, such as requiring it for moped riders only or for those 25 years old or younger. He says the important thing is to get the law passed because it can save lives.