The woman who died in a crash that police said involved alcohol last night in Waialua was an up-and-coming stand up paddler and a “loving spirit,” a close friend said.
Sophia Tiare Bartlow, 26, grew up in California and graduated from the University of Hawaii with a degree in anthropology, said local television and radio personality, Betty “Banzai” Depolito.
Depolito said Bartlow had dreams of finding a sponsor to compete professionally as a stand up paddler and already won some titles.
“It’s just devastating,” Depolito said by phone. Bartlow was “always full of love and light. She made people smile. She was a very loving spirit.”
She said the driver was Bartlow’s boyfriend.
Police said the crash happened at about 10:15 p.m. Saturday when a 35-year-old Waialua man was speeding Kahuku-bound on Waialua Beach Road just west of Haleiwa Road. The driver lost control, crossed the oncoming lane, and hit a large tree in the front yard of a residence.
Paramedics said the woman was unrestrained and was rolled over by the vehicle. She was taken in extremely critical condition to a hospital where she died.
The man was taken to a hospital in serious condition. He was later arrested for investigation of first-degree negligent homicide, drunken driving, and driving without a license.
Police said alcohol and excessive speed contributed to the crash. It was the third traffic fatality on Oahu this year, compared to three at this time last year.
Depolito said Bartlow lived with her while Bartlow was attending UH and also appeared on her television show, “Flhi Girlz Surfing & Sports.”
Bartlow was ranked 12th in the 2015 Stand Up World Series women’s ranking, according to the Waterman League website. In 2015, she created a gofundme page stating her goal of obtaining 2017 world titles in both stand up paddling surfing and racing. In her rookie year, she won the 2014 US SUP surfing tour.
She is the daughter of Jericho Poppler, a women’s longboarding champion.