The Hawaii Police Department this week announced a new focus on enforcing motorcycle safety laws after an alarming number of fatalities so far this year.
Five motorcyclists have died so far this year across the island, and at least three of them were due to reckless behavior, police said:
— Dimitri I. Sheehan, 24, of Laupahoehoe was doing a wheelie on the afternoon of Feb. 26 in Keaukaha when he lost control, ran off the right side of the road and struck a street sign.
— Lance C.K. Pule, 38, of Kapa‘au tried to overtake another vehicle on the Akoni Pule Highway in North Kohala in a no-passing zone on March 3 when he lost control and ran off the right side of the highway.
— Brocky A. Rapozo, 31, of Honokaa was trying to overtake a northbound car on Highway 190 in South Kohala on South Kohala when he clipped a corner of the car, lost control and struck a guardrail.
— Caleb Wolfson, 38, of Kailua-Kona struck a concrete barrier on Henry Street in Kailua-Kona on the night of April 11; he was pronounced dead the next morning.
— Rikko J. Von Gato, 51, of Puna failed to stop at a stop sign, entered a private driveway and struck a gate at the intersection of Highway 130 and Leilani Avenue on May 2.
“The purpose of our enforcement effort is to prevent additional tragedies,” said Police Sgt. Christopher Gali.
“We’re going to look to increase our enforcement of that we see,” Gali said, including equipment and licensing violations.
Police count 14 traffic fatalities so far this year, but the number would be higher if Von Gato’s crash on private property were included. At this time last year, police counted just eight traffic fatalities.
“It’s so high from last year’s number,” Gali said, explaining the new focus on motorcycle enforcement.
Only Sheehan and Wolfson had helmets. Police encourage riders to wear helmets, although it’s not required by law.
Police also encourage motorcycle riders to be respectful of other drivers, wear proper gear and make sure the motorcycle is in good working condition.