Archive for January 2008

What’s with those overpasses?

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

It was just two weeks ago, on January 17, that toddler Cyrus Belt fell onto the H-1 freeway, allegedly with the help of (apparently) mentally unbalanced Matthew Higa. Of course, that’s bad enough as it is. But what’s worse is that this event has apparently inspired at least three adults to throw themselves onto the freeway, one of whom actually succeeded in her apparent suicide attempt.

Almost one week to the moment, on the 24th (via the Advertiser’s story the next day):

A woman in her 30s suffered serious injuries after jumping from an H-1 Freeway overpass in Waipahu yesterday afternoon, officials said.

The incident happened shortly before 4 p.m. at the Waipahu Street overpass. The woman jumped onto the east-bound lanes of the H-1, police said.

Emergency medical personnel took the woman to The Queen’s Medical Center in serious condition at 3:59 p.m., emergency services spokesman Bryan Cheplic said.

Some east-bound lanes on the freeway were closed, police Sgt. Lui Pestana said. Traffic was snarled, but the freeway was reopened before 4:45 p.m.

Then yesterday, the 30th, saw two such attempts. In the wee hours of the morning:

A woman in her 30s died early yesterday after she was found lying in the middle of a street in Kalihi below the H-1 freeway.

Police received a call at 3:42 a.m. about a woman walking in the Koko Head direction on the Waianae-bound side of the H-1 near the Vineyard Boulevard/Halona Street onramp. It was unclear whether she was in a lane of traffic or on the shoulder.

Shortly afterward, police received a call about a woman lying in the middle of Halona Street. Police said the woman apparently fell from the freeway onto Halona Street. Preliminary investigation revealed no signs that the woman was hit by a vehicle, police said.

The woman, who has not yet been identified, was taken in critical condition to the Queen’s Medical Center, where she later died. Police said they found no witnesses. The case has been classified as an unattended death.

And just last night:

Police shut down westbound lanes of the H-1 freeway last night after someone apparently jumped off the Liliha overpass.

Bryan Cheplic, spokesman for the Emergency Services Department, said a man in his 50s was taken to the Queen’s Medical Center in critical condition.

Police diverted traffic off the freeway at the School Street and Vineyard offramps after the 7:19 p.m. incident. Police shut down the Punchbowl, School Street and Lunalilo onramps. Lanes were reopened at about 8:30 p.m.

Much has been said about Cyrus Belt, and the focus has been on the apparent neglect on the part of his caregivers, and how to prevent such tragedies from happening to another child. That’s all well and good, but given what has transpired over the past few weeks, if we really want a lasting legacy for Cyrus Belt, I really think the best way is to get the Department of Transportation to install high fencing on all freeway overpasses that carry pedestrian traffic.

I don’t think Matthew Higa, or whoever, would have climbed a 10-foot fence to drop anything over the edge. And who knows? The life this saves could be yours…or mine…or your baby’s.

Just a thought.

Disclaimer

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

I have a very common Okinawan last name. Everytime I introduce myself to someone, I sometimes get the question, “Oh, are you related to ______ Higa?” Personally, I’m only related to eight of the many people named Higa, and only three of them (my mom, my aunty, and one of my cousins) are alive today.

Given current events today, though, I feel compelled to state, for the record, now and for perpetuity:

I AM NOT NOW, NOR HAVE I EVER BEEN, RELATED TO ANYONE NAMED MATTHEW HIGA.

Period. Next question?