Rep. Joseph Leepan T. Guerrero (R-Saipan) and Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang said the island’s street lights needs to be improved, particularly in areas that are poorly lit like portions along Puerto Rico.
These were Guerrero’s and Apatang’s suggestion after an auto-pedestrian incident took place early Sunday morning in Puerto Rico—a dark area—where the victim was left for dead. The driver was later identified as Esekiel Smith, who was accompanied by his wife when he turned himself in at 6:50pm on Sunday to the Department of Public Safety.
Apatang said he plans to meet with Department of Public Works officials to talk about streetlights. “That’s DPW’s work. We need to look at putting additional lighting and highway safety [there].”
He added that it was disheartening news to learn of the incident. “It’s unfortunate for this kind of incidents to happen. The boy got hit and later died. That’s very sad.”
Guerrero said he doesn’t understand why the driver left behind the victim, who was pronounced dead at 4:01am at the Commonwealth Health Center. “For somebody to hit someone and not stop to assist, even though you are at fault or not…Again, you hit a human being.”
“I don’t understand why the driver did not stop to assist, that’s very cold. …The driver could have assisted the victim and brought him to the hospital [and] that could have saved his life.”
The Precinct 1 lawmaker said that poor lighting in the area could have been a factor in the incident. “One of the mitigating factors that I see in that area is poor lighting. As a government, we need to have a study done how to best light up Puerto Rico Road.”
“Because that is not the only incident that has happened in the [area] during the wee hours of the morning and late at night. If we had adequately lit streets, we won’t have any problems of people walking on the road being hit.”
The car could also be darkly tinted. “Maybe the vehicle had dark tinting. It can impair your ability to drive even if you have 20/20 vision. The vehicles headlights won’t give you sufficient lighting to see your surroundings.”
Guerrero said that government agencies like the DPW, the Marianas Visitors Authority, and the Saipan Mayor’s Office should coordinate with each other on how to properly light that road to ensure the safety of everyone.