Maui Deaths Focus Attention on Riding in Beds of Pickup Trucks

Jun 29, 2015

Credit Aaron Najera / Flickr

It’s been two weeks since three men were killed while riding in the back of a pickup truck on Maui. That tragic accident has increased attention on the question of whether new safety laws are needed across the state. Eileen Chao has more from The Maui News.

Howard Pruse, Eric Oguma and Tyree Kamaunu were riding in the back of a pickup truck that was turning left into the Maui Raceway Park when an oncoming vehicle sideswiped the truck. All three men were immediately ejected from the truck and pronounced dead at the scene.

Others involved in the accident were taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Maui Police say they hope the case leads to a change in the law that would prohibit riding in the back of a pickup truck.

Right now, Hawaii law allows passengers over the age of 12 to ride in the bed of a pickup truck if all the seats in the cab are filled. The truck must have secure side panels and the tailgate must be closed.

Some truck owners argue that sometimes they just need to transport more people than will fit inside of the truck.

But police say riding in a car without a seat belt is a deadly gamble.

In 2013, one person was killed and four teenagers were injured when the truck they were riding in crashed and burst into flames along Farrington Highway near Makua Cave. Just a couple years before that, a 13-year-old boy died after being thrown from the back of a truck on Kalanianaole Highway in Olomana.

The three latest fatalities bring the total number of traffic deaths on Maui this year to eight, compared to 14 during the same time last year.