Safety experts say 3-year-old death was preventable

Published On: Jan 10 2013 09:29:00 PM HST

A 3-year-old boy is dead on the Big Island. Police say the child's own father ran over him in a pickup truck.

It happened around 6:40 p.m. Wednesday. Safety experts said it's a tragedy that could have been prevented.

The grieving father is now the subject of a criminal investigation.  Pedro Peter, 38, is under arrest for negligent homicide, driving without a license, and perhaps most importantly in this case, not having child restraints.

Police say when he drove to Matsuyama Food Mart there were four kids were in the truck and none of them were properly buckled up.

Sgt. Christopher Gali with the Hawaii Police Department said, "The daughter who was in the back seat of the pick up truck, she's 6-years-old.  She believed that the father had parked the pickup truck and she opened up the back door, the passenger side door, and the 3-year-old boy fell out."

Police said Peter didn't know his son, Joel, was under the truck.  So, he continued forward and ran over him.

"They picked up the boy, and the father drove to the Kona Community Hospital," said Sgt. Gali.

The boy was pronounced dead at the hospital.  Police said this could have been prevented if he was in a child seat.  Experts say children need to be restrained at all times.

"They can just be going down the street and a tragedy occurs," said Kari Benes with the Hawaii State Department of Health.

According to the law, children through the age of seven are required to be in a car seat or booster seat -- the rules depend on weight and height.

"We know that use of car seats in Hawaii is not only following the law but it also results in your child being protected in case you get in a crash," said Dr. Dan Galanis.

According to the Hawaii State Department of Health, fewer parents restrained their toddlers in 2012 compared to the year before.

Police do not suspect speed, alcohol, or drugs to be factors in the crash.


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