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Editorial | Island Voices

Cyclist’s death spurs plea to drive safely

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I went online to read the article about the death of Zachary Manago ("HPU student killed while cycling," Star-Advertiser, Dec. 19). It saddened me to read some of the online comments that were going back and forth. I felt compelled to write from a mother’s point of view.

My two sons, ages 18 and 20, were with Zach on that Friday night ride. As a parent, let alone a mother, I sometimes do not agree with where or what time my boys ride. But like Zach, they love it. I’m proud of my boys for choosing a healthy lifestyle, compared to some other kids their age. My boys have done the Island Ride before. As worried parents, my husband and I instructed them to text us every so often so we knew they were OK. I know they get irritated with us for being overprotective. It’s not that we don’t trust our boys; we don’t trust others on the road. I don’t think they realize how dangerous it can be. That ride went well; everyone got home safely.

This past ride, however, did not turn out as well. I received a call from my 18-year-old around 1 a.m. Saturday. My heart sank as I answered the phone. His words to me were, "Mom, one of the boys got hit. We’re heading to the hospital." I asked who it was and he said, "Zach."

At the time I didn’t think it was serious—on another ride they went on, a boy got hit but he had minor injuries; I thought this would be the same.

The second call came in around 2 a.m. It was my 20-year-old. He said, "Mom, can you pick us up at Wahiawa General"?

I asked him, how Zach was doing. He started crying and said, "Mom, he’s gone, Mom." I could not believe what I was hearing; it all felt like a bad dream.

When I got to the hospital my 20-year-old told me that he and Zach were riding together, side-by-side, talking story, and now Zach’s gone. My son is having a hard time with it all; he was there when it happened. He realizes it could have been him, too. Most of all, he just lost his friend.

I had the opportunity to meet Zach’s mom at the hospital. She was so strong, thanking everyone for coming. She just lost her son; I don’t know if I could have been that strong. The worst thing a parent can ever go through is losing a child. Turns out I knew Zach’s aunt; we attended the same church years earlier. All I could do was hug her and cry. She told me, "Zach knew the Lord; he’s in a better place." I pray Zach’s family, especially his mom, can get through this difficult time.

As a mother I want to tell my boys not to ride anymore, but I know I can’t do that. All I can do is pray that through this tragedy more awareness will prevail, among vehicle drivers and bike riders alike. It can be a battlefield out there sometimes. A vehicle going 50 or 60 mph can be deadly to someone on a bike or walking.

Be considerate of others on the road. When you see bikers or pedestrians, slow down. Share the road. It may save someone’s life someday, someone you may know—someone’s child.

Dannette Yoshimura is a resident of Waipahu.

 

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