Student killed in truck crash
By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Staff Writer
A pickup truck carrying eight Kaimukī High School students crashed in West O'ahu early yesterday, killing a girl two weeks away from graduation and seriously injuring five others.
The 18-year-old driver was arrested for investigation of first-degree negligent homicide, police said.
"We're all in shock," Kaimukī High principal Penelope Tom said after learning of the accident and the death of senior Melissa Miranda, 18.
The Bulldogs' senior prom is May 15 and commencement is May 23.
Tom said all of the students involved in the crash attend Kaimukī. She said she spent yesterday talking to parents and relatives of the students.
Tom said she has called a special meeting today for counselors and support staff to prepare for when school opens Monday.
Tom described Miranda as always polite, hard-working and conscientious.
"She was an average student and she was doing OK," Tom said. "We didn't have any problem with her."
Miranda was one of six people riding in the back of a 2005 Toyota pickup driven by classmate Bethany Robert in Kalaeloa.
Police Lt. David Nilsen said the truck was traveling east on Roosevelt Avenue about 1:30 a.m. when the vehicle went onto the shoulder.
Nilsen said that as the driver tried to steer the truck back onto the road, it rolled over and ended up in the middle of Roosevelt Avenue, about 450 feet west of Bataan Street.
All six youths were thrown from the pickup bed. Miranda was pronounced dead at the scene. A 17-year-old girl was taken to The Queen's Medical Center in critical condition.
Robert was seriously injured, as were a 17-year-old girl, an 18-year-old woman and an 18-year-old man. They were taken to Queen's. Two other students who were ejected from the truck bed were not taken to a hospital, police said.
It was the second death of O'ahu this year of a young person who was thrown from a pickup truck bed.
Entertainer Melveen Leed, who lost her grandson, 13-year-old Ka'ai Kamakea-Nalua'i, said yesterday, "When will anybody learn? The grief that we go through is horrible. I'm still grieving."
Leed promised after her grandson's death that she would advocate for a ban on all minors riding in the back of a pickup. Hawai'i law allows people 12 years old and up to ride in the back of a truck.
Leed said she has sought the help of state Sen. Brickwood Galuteria, D-12th (Downtown, Kaka'ako, Ala Moana, Waikīkī).
"We're going to see what we can do to address the issue," Galuteria said.