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Victim’s sister has kind words for driver in fatal SUV accident

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Family and friends of the two men who were killed by a sport utility vehicle Thursday in Manoa were praying for the man who hit them.

Police arrested the driver, Charles Wegener, on suspicion of two counts of second-degree negligent homicide but released him pending investigation.

Suzette Oide, sister of one victim, 68-year-old Dexter Lum, said she met with Wegener yesterday to talk about the fatal accident.

"Hopefully, it helps him to get through this because he’s really hurting a lot," said Oide. "We don’t feel any animosity or blame, and we want him to get better and everyone else involved."

She said she misses her brother but worries for Wegener, adding, "He’s hurting so badly. I want to help him in any way."

Lum and the other victim, 77-year-old Martin Wong of Kaneohe, were both 33rd Degree Masons in Hawaii. Wegener is the grand master in Hawaii, the top Mason in the state.

Fellow Masons said Wegener had been moving the white Lexus SUV for a fellow Mason when he hit four men in the parking lot of Treetops Restaurant at Paradise Park. In addition to the deaths of Lum and Wong, an 81-year-old man was taken to the hospital with a broken hip. The fourth man was knocked down but not injured.

The group of men had been attending a luncheon for Masons.

Friends said the owner of the SUV had it modified for left-foot driving after he had a stroke, and the unusual arrangement caused Wegener to hit the gas instead of the brake.

Honolulu police Sgt. Alan Vegas said the vehicle had not been inspected yesterday. He said a vehicle can be modified for disabled drivers. He could not say whether the driver would be charged.

Masons from around the island gathered yesterday for a memorial for the two victims at the Masonic Temple on Makiki Street.

Among those in attendance was Tim Yuen, who was the least injured of the four victims.

He recalled seeing the two men run over by the SUV as he lay on the ground. After calling for an ambulance, he tried to help Lum.

He said Wegener got out of the car after collecting himself and tried to give Lum cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Wegener was distraught and said, "’I killed my friend Dexter,’" Yuen said. "It was surreal."

While Lum responded to attempts to help, Wong appeared unresponsive, Yuen said.

Lum was class president of the senior class at Roosevelt High School in 1960, which will hold its 50th-year reunion later this year, Lum’s sister said.

A real estate appraiser, he also taught part time at Farrington High School. As the oldest of four children, he gave up his career in the Air Force to help his sister and father take care of his brother, who died of muscular dystrophy in 1986.

The family celebrated Lum’s 68th birthday on Sunday, although he had protested a celebration, Oide said.

She wanted to celebrate for him and was grateful she did.


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