A bright and promising Hawaii Pacific University student and former high school baseball star out for an around-the-island ride was the victim of a hit-and-run accident near Wahiawa late Friday night.
Zachary Manago, 18, was pronounced dead at Wahiawa General Hospital after being struck by what witnesses described as a white SUV while riding along Kamehameha Highway near Wheeler Army Airfield at about 11:10 p.m.
Police said the driver of the vehicle that hit Manago sped away. They are asking for the public’s help in locating the vehicle and the driver; call CrimeStoppers at 955-8300.
Manago was traveling north with other cyclists along the shoulder of the highway about a half-mile south of Leilehua Golf Course Road when he was struck from behind and thrown onto a grassy shoulder.
Members of the baseball and bicycling communities are mourning the loss of Manago, the ace of the Moanalua High School baseball team the past two years and a bright prospect for the HPU baseball team, which is scheduled to begin practice in a few weeks.
"He was an exceptional athlete who took care of business on and off the field," said Scott Yamada, Moanalua’s coach, who made Manago one of two team captains last year. "As a teammate, everybody loved him. He had no enemies."
Manago made the OIA Eastern Division’s coaches all-star team his last two years at Moanalua. He was also a Star-Bulletin third-team all-state player and an Advertiser honorable mention all-state player.
When Manago was a junior, the team made it to the quarterfinals largely as a result of his arm, Yamada said. When he suffered a season-ending arm injury his senior year, Manago continued to attend practices and work out with his teammates as much as he could.
"He was a leader by example," Yamada said. "He was such a hard-working kid. You wanted to root for a kid like that."
Garett Yukumoto, HPU baseball coach, said Manago was looking forward to his first season as a Sea Warrior.
Manago, at 6 feet 4 inches tall, had both talent and size. "He had real potential to grow — as a player and as a person," Yukumoto said. "And academically, he was a good student and a good fit for our program."
Yamada said that when Manago started at HPU, he began riding his bicycle to school because of the lack of parking on the downtown campus. That’s when he became active with the biking community.
On Friday night, cyclist Jason Smith met up with a group of 30 to 40 riders at Anna Miller’s Pearlridge at about 7:30 p.m. for a ride that was to culminate with a view of the sunrise at Sandy Beach yesterday morning.
Smith recalled the young man talking about his upcoming baseball season.
Manago had lights and was wearing a helmet.
"They were very well-lit-up," said Smith, who left the ride just before the crash because he had to wake up early for a flight to the Big Island.
Smith said he’s fed up by the number of bicyclists being injured by motor vehicles. Frequently, he said, he’s confronted by motorists who are "aggressive, threatening and rude."
Chad Taniguchi, executive director of the Hawaii Bicycling League, condemned the driver who left the scene after striking Manago.
"Everyone on the road is responsible for safety — bicyclists, pedestrians and motor vehicle drivers alike," he said. "The greater burden rests directly in the hands of those who operate motor vehicles that become lethal weapons in a collision, even at slow speeds."
Manago’s death was the 62nd on Oahu roads this year, surpassing the 55 in all of 2009.