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Crash victim known for smile, athletic gifts

  • JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM Kawika Sebay, left, Ambrose Rapis-Zerbe and Dino Villaver, friends of Micah Mench, who was killed Saturday night in a single-car crash, paused for a moment yesterday near a roadside memo­rial where the crash took place along Kame­ha­meha Highway in Wai­kane. The crash killed Mench and his 22-year-old female passenger.

  • “He earned a lot of game balls in his life. He was just a natural athlete, no matter what he played. He was good at every sport, and he was a great paddler, surfer and waterman.”
    Kawika Sebay
    Childhood friend who left a football at the site of the crash

Friends of the Kaneohe man killed along with a 22-year-old woman in a single-vehicle crash on Saturday remembered him as a gifted athlete and "the life of the party."

While the Medical Examiner’s office has not yet officially identified the two victims, friends who gathered at the site of the crash yesterday confirmed that the driver was 27-year-old Micah Mench, a journeyman carpenter and father of two young children.

"It’s shocking," said Ikaika Shores, 27, who attended Castle High School with Mench. "He was a real outgoing guy, always smiling. He was always really generous with his friends."

Shores said he had heard about the crash while watching the evening news on Saturday but didn’t realize it was his friend until he found out via Facebook yesterday.

"He was just a good guy," Shores said, wiping his eyes.

According to police, Mench was driving at a high rate of speed headed south on Kame­ha­meha Highway, about a half-mile from Johnson Road, when his 1997 Honda Civic veered off the road and hit a tree.

Both Mench and his passenger were declared dead at the scene.

Police said speed and possibly alcohol were factors in the crash.

Meanwhile, the Medical Examiner’s Office has identified the woman killed in Saturday’s head-on collision between a motorcycle and a Jeep on Kaukonahua Road as 26-year-old Brenda Anderson of Honolulu.

According to police, Anderson was riding northward at a high rate of speed when she lost control of her Harley-Davidson motorcycle and collided with the Jeep. Anderson was taken to Wahiawa General Hospital in critical condition and was later pronounced dead. The two occupants of the Jeep were not seriously uninjured.

In a message posted on a local Harley-Davidson online forum last month, Anderson, a native of Wisconsin, identified herself as former Navy personnel.

"Husband still serves while I’m out enjoying the freedom of the road," she wrote.

On Windward Oahu yesterday, more than a dozen people gathered at the crash site, leaving offerings of flowers, cans of Bud­wei­ser and bottles of Hei­ne­ken amid the flattened vegetation and broken glass. A window adorned with honu stickers, presumably from Mench’s car, lay on the grass.

Kawika Sebay, 26, who grew up playing baseball, football and other sports with and against Mench, left a football as a personal memorial to his fallen friend.

"He earned a lot of game balls in his life," Sebay said. "He was just a natural athlete, no matter what he played. He was good at every sport, and he was a great paddler, surfer and waterman."

Sebay said he last saw Mench about a week ago. He said that while Mench enjoyed partying with his friends, he didn’t know him as a person who let things get out of control.

"He was the life of the party, but I never knew him to have any problem with drinking or anything like that," Sebay said.

Sebay, who also attended Castle, said Mench’s death is the latest in a series of tragedies for his alma mater. Last November, classmate Frank Iokewe Ryder was struck and killed by a car as he walked along Kahe­kili Highway, In January, classmate Joel Botelho, a standout prep football and basketball player, was shot to death in front of his parents’ home in Kane­ohe after an argument with another man.

"It’s hard to take," Sebay said. "We’ve lost a lot of friends."

Sebay said Mench’s death was especially sad given his friend’s solid upbringing.

"My heart goes out to his family," he said. "His parents love their kids, and they raised them with good values. It’s tragic that they raised him so successfully only to have him go like this. I can’t believe this is how Micah Mench’s life ended."

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