Tragedies a time to stand strong

They say newspapers like bad news because it sells. But let us be the first to say, we would rather not have to report fatal crashes, drownings, a homicide, a fire, a truck crashing into a building, and men with guns outside a school who fled and were tracked down and arrested by police.

All of these have been within that past few weeks.

None of this is comforting. It’s easy to be distraught when such heartache occurs, when criminal elements hit so close to home. We want to close our doors to the dangers out there.

Consider all that has recently happened:

• A 26-year-old man visiting from Germany died in waters off Anahola on Thursday morning. According to a preliminary investigation, the man was surfing in waters off Anahola Beach, fronting the area known as Kumu Camp, when he lost his board and became distressed in a series of waves shortly before 10:30 a.m. Lifeguards responded and pulled the unresponsive man to shore, where they began administering CPR. Lifeguards, along with firefighters dispatched to the scene, continued resuscitation efforts until the man was transferred to responding medics. He was transported to Wilcox Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

• The two men involved in Tuesday’s police pursuit in Kapaa were identified as Travis Shimomura, 34, of Kapaa, and Kylie Lanning, 23, of Anahola. According to a preliminary investigation, Shimomura approached a vehicle occupied by a 26-year-old Kapaa woman and her 51-year-old male passenger outside St. Catherine School on Tuesday afternoon. Shimomura allegedly threatened both individuals with a gun, then fled the scene with Lanning down Kawaihau Road. Police tracked and arrested the men.

• Kauai police have confirmed additional details about the two unattended deaths that occurred Thursday in Wailua. Autopsies performed have confirmed that Tia Obrero died of blunt-force injuries and strangulation, and Michael Blackstad died of a drowning. The autopsy also confirmed Blackstad sustained postmortem injuries from a shark attack. The husband and wife were 26 years old. “Our investigation has led us to believe that Michael Blackstad is responsible for the death of his wife, Tia Obrero,” stated Kauai Police Department Assistant Chief of the Investigative Services Bureau Bryson Ponce. “We believe Michael died shortly after in waters off Wailua. Although the investigation remains ongoing, there are no other facts or evidence at this time to lead us to any other conclusions.”

• A 50-year-old Oahu man died as a result of a two-car crash in Kapaa Monday night, Feb. 11. About 9:45 p.m., police were called to a traffic crash on Kuhio Highway, near the Mailihuna Road junction near Kealia Beach Park. According to a preliminary investigation, a white SUV was heading south on Kuhio Highway when it crossed the center line in an attempt to overtake a southbound silver SUV. As a northbound vehicle approached, the white SUV swerved back into the southbound lane and collided with the silver SUV. The impact of the collision caused the white SUV to lose control and crash into a utility pole. The front passenger of the white SUV, a 50-year-old male of Oahu, was ejected from the vehicle during the crash. He was presumed dead at the scene, and later transported to Wilcox Medical Center, where he was formally pronounced dead. Llewellyn Hoopii, 39, of Oahu, on Thursday, Feb. 14, was arrested on suspicion of negligent homicide in the first degree. Hoopii was the driver of the white SUV in the traffic crash on Monday, Feb. 11.

• Firefighters responded to a structure fire at the Emmalani Court condominiums in Princeville Monday night, which resulted in the total loss of one unit. No occupants were in the unit at the time of the fire, and no injuries were reported. Fire inspectors estimate the cost of damage to the structure and its contents to be roughly $350,000.

• No injuries were reported after a truck crashed into the Tip Top Cafe in Lihue Friday afternoon, Feb. 15. Shortly before 4 p.m., a white Ford pickup truck was southbound on Akahi Street, when it turned into a parking stall fronting the Tip Top Cafe restaurant and crashed into the building. The restaurant was not open at the time, and no patrons were inside. The driver of the truck, a 56-year-old woman of Omao, was assisted out of her vehicle by police and firefighters responding to the scene. She did not report any injuries from the collision.

• A woman died from injuries sustained during a traffic crash that occurred on Ala Kinoiki in Koloa Sunday night. Police identified the woman as Seon Young Jo, 56, of South Korea. According to a preliminary investigation, a Nissan Versa was heading east on Wailaau Road shortly before 7:45 p.m., when it apparently drove through a stop sign at the intersection with Ala Kinoiki without stopping. As it crossed the intersection, a Polynesian Adventures tour bus traveling north on Ala Kinoiki struck the Nissan on its passenger side and subsequently dragged the vehicle for several feet before it was able to come to a complete stop.

We bring this up to remind everyone of a few things. Please, take your time on the roads. Drive patiently and safely. When in the water, swim in a lifeguarded area and don’t swim alone. Most important, don’t take anything for granted. It’s absolutely true we don’t know what tomorrow brings, what may happen to those we know and love. Tragedy, unforeseen circumstances, await around every corner.

All we can do is be alert, be careful and do our best to stay safe and, in turn, help others to stay safe. It also goes to note that we really don’t know what is going on in the lives of those around us unless we take time to know them and invest in a relationship with them.

Let’s give thanks to Life’s Bridges, a grief-counseling service, that responds to those when they most need help.

And our police officers, firefighters and medical responders have responded well to the many challenges that have come their way. When we need them, they are there.

We’re all aware it takes just one bad driver to cost another their life. We’re aware it takes just one rogue wave to sweep someone away from safety and out to sea. We’re aware there are people out there who will harm others.

The best we can do is be prepared, be alert, realize that life is short. We don’t know what awaits tomorrow. But we do know that, together, we stand a better chance of emerging from these challenges stronger.

  1. Sharkbait February 24, 2019 10:45 am Reply

    Agenda 21 rolls on.

    1. Pete Antonson February 25, 2019 2:01 pm Reply

      No, it doesn’t!

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