Tragic — there’s no other word to describe a Wednesday evening accident in Kalaoa that left a 3-year-old Kailua-Kona boy dead.
Joel Peter died at 6:43 p.m. after he was apparently run over by a pickup truck driven by his 38-year-old father, Pedro Peter, near the Matsuyama Food Mart driveway off Mamalahoa Highway, according to the Hawaii Police Department. The father unknowingly struck the youngster who had fallen out of the truck’s cab.
Police determined that the boy’s sister apparently thought their father had parked the truck and subsequently opened the rear passenger door, at which time the boy fell out of the vehicle. The father, not knowing his son was outside the truck, continued up the driveway and ran over the child, according to police.
Pedro Peter then drove his son to Kona Community Hospital, which was the first entity to contact emergency officials about the incident, according to police.
Pedro Peter, his 32-year-old wife and three girls, ages 4, 4 and 6, who were in the cab, as well as two male relatives in the truck’s bed were not injured, according to police.
A Matsuyama employee working at the time of the accident said Thursday they were unaware a fatality had occurred in such close proximity to the store. The employee also said that no customers who shopped at the store around the time mentioned the accident.
The only sign of the incident remaining on Thursday morning was several drops and a small pool of dried blood on the driveway leading to the food mart’s parking lot.
Pedro Peter was arrested Wednesday evening by police on suspicion of negligent homicide, driving without a license, failure to have no-fault motor vehicle insurance and four counts of failure to use child passenger restraints, according to police. He remains in police custody pending further investigation.
He was also arrested on an outstanding warrant for failure to appear, according to police. The warrant stems from a missed September 2011 arraignment and plea hearing for driving without a license, failure to have vehicle insurance, and failure to use passenger restraints for a child between age 4 and 8.
A check of the state Attorney General’s Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center found no prior criminal convictions for the father.
However, 3rd Circuit District Court records showed an array of traffic offenses dating to 2001. Among the infractions were driving without a license; failure to use passenger restraints for a child between age 4 and 8; failure to use passenger restraints for a child under age 4; failure to have no-fault motor vehicle insurance; driving with an instruction permit without a licensed driver present; speeding and an array of nonmoving violations.
Police do not suspect speed, alcohol or drugs to be contributing factors in the accident.
An autopsy has been ordered to determine the exact cause of death.
The death is the first fatality recorded on Big Island roads in 2013 compared with no deaths at this time last year, according to police. In all of 2012, there were 38 lives lost on Big Island roads — the deadliest year on record since 2004.
Anyone with information on the crash or who was near Matsuyama Food Mart between 6 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday is asked to call Officer Thomas Koyanagi at 326-4646, ext. 229.