Family, friends mourn loss of infant killed in Waimanalo pedestrian crash

Photo: Bennedine Naleieha

UPDATE: The suspect, Annie Akau, was released from police custody pending further investigation. HPD says Akau was released at 4:15 pm.

A family is grieving the loss of a little boy and a woman is under arrest for plowing into him and two others in Waimanalo.

The crash happened just before 7 p.m. Monday on Kalanianaole Highway near Wailea Street.

Police say Annie Akau, 26, was behind the wheel of a truck that hit a 6-month-old boy, his 3-year-old brother, and their mother. Their father was not hurt.

Family members tell us 6-month-old Donovan Naleieha was taken to Queen’s Medical Center Monday night with critical injuries and died Tuesday.

They say the family is struggling with the loss, but remain hopeful that the 3-year-old will pull through. He was transferred to Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children and “is doing okay so far.”

Photo: Bennedine Naleieha
Photo: Bennedine Naleieha

Witness Lynn Mattson told KHON2 she was at home when she heard the sound of screeching tires and went out to help the family. She said she held baby Donovan in her arms until the ambulance got there. She found the baby stroller stuck under the truck — a horrifying and haunting sight.

“It breaks my heart, it really does,” Mattson said. “Last night I know I was in shock walking around with him, but I cannot imagine.”

Family members say Donovan’s mother is recovering at Castle Medical Center with an injured leg.

Police say Akau fled the scene. She was later arrested at her home a short distance away for a long list of offenses, including driving under the influence, driving without a license, accidental death, and negligent injury.

Akau has previous court cases for driving without a license. Several Waimanalo residents tells us Akau and the family know each other.

Annie Akau
Annie Akau

On Tuesday afternoon, family members and residents came together at the scene of the crash to tell drivers to slow down on Kalanianaole Highway.

“Of course we feel angry. We do. But it’s not going to help. We are angry for a little, but we come and we pray and come together, and that’s what’s happening here,” said family member Bennedine Naleieha. “It’s sad it had to be this way coming together. If this can save one more child’s life, that’d be great.”

“People need to slow down here. It’s like a raceway park, that’s what I call it,” said Mattson.

This is not the first time someone has been hit in the area. In September, a 76-year-old man died after being hit by an SUV while he was in a marked crosswalk just a block down the road.

Residents we spoke to say the mid-block crosswalk combined with speeding drivers makes the area very dangerous.

We spoke with a member of the Waimanalo neighborhood board who says he is outraged by the latest crash and plans to speak with the state and city to see if they can add flashing lights to the marked crosswalks.

The state Department of Transportation says it’s upgrading lighting not only along Kalanianaole Highway but around the entire island and statewide.

“However at the end of the day, if the community and the public does not feel safe with the improvements, that’s certainly not the outcome we are looking for, so if there’s improvements or additional improvements or upgrades we can do, certainly we will,” said department spokesman Tim Sakahara. “We can also add more crosswalk signs, more signage to alert drivers of the crosswalks. They were up there in this area already, but possibly we could add more, and then another change we could possibly make is decreasing the speed limit.”

The DOT is also looking into eliminating mid-block crosswalks across the state.

slow-down-waimanalo-1

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