Photo credit: Honolulu Police Department
Honolulu police have confirmed the death of a police officer, in a crash on Farrington Highway westbound near the Ko Olina off-ramp.
Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha said Officer Eric Fontes was assisting in a routine traffic stop at about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday and was standing on a grassy median next to a concrete barrier, when a truck hit him.
"Suddenly, a 2003 Toyota Tacoma driven by a 20-year-old man veered left around four police vehicles, off the highway and onto the grassy median where the officers were located. The truck hit the concrete divide and struck Officer Fontes, as the other officers were able to jump out of the way," Kealoha said.
But then the truck hit a subsidized police vehicle which then slammed into Officer Herman Scanlan, Kealoha said.
Paramedic crews took Fontes and Scanlan to the hospital. Fontes died before arriving at the Pali Momi Medical Center. Scanlan was in serious condition at Queen's Medical Center.
"This incident has shattered many lives. And we ask that everyone remember these officers and their families in our thoughts and prayers," Kealoha said in a somber press conference at Honolulu Police Department headquarters Wednesday afternoon.
Fontes was on the force for seven years and was assigned to the Kapolei police substation.
Kealoha and the entire department is dealing with the loss of one of their own. Kealoha and others who attended the press conference wore black strips of tape across their police badges in a show of mourning. Kealoha stopped for a moment before a small memorial for Fontes that included a framed photograph of the fallen officer and his boots.
"This tragedy highlights the dangers that our officers face every day and the stress their families must endure," Kealoha said.
"Our hearts go out to him and his family. It hurts the entire department. We continue to do what we need to do to honor his legacy," State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers President Tenari Maafala said.
The woman involved in the initial traffic stop complained about pains from the crash about an hour after the incident. An ambulance took her to an area hospital for treatment.
Police arrested the driver of the pickup truck, James Dorsey Mancao, 20, of Waianae. He faces charges of negligent homicide and negligent injury.
"I know he is not reckless like that," Mancao's father, Jules, said. "I'm just sorry for the officer who got hurt. It's a tragedy. He's a good kid."
His parents said he is in the National Guard and is scheduled to be deployed to Afghanistan in the next few months.
His parents said he does not drink. Honolulu police confirmed alcohol was not involved in the tragedy.
Police are investigating if speed contributed to the crash.
This is the first death for an officer on duty since May 2007.
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