FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
A funeral was held yesterday at Mililani Memorial Park and Mortuary for Marlena Yomes, killed March 8 in the crash of a Hawaii Air Ambulance plane on Maui. Many personnel from Emergency Medical Services and the Honolulu Fire Department came to pay respects. Stacey Oho, left, from the federal EMS, and Doreen Kitagawa, from the city EMS, embraced before the service.
Paramedic brought joy and calm
About 1,000 loved ones attend services for Marlena Yomes
Marlena Yomes had been scheduled to fly on a Hawaii Air Ambulance plane that crashed in 2004 on the Big Island, killing the pilot and two paramedics.
But her shift had ended before the flight departed, and she did not go, Yomes' brother, Keith Moniz, said yesterday.
Hawaii Air Ambulance pilot Koichiro Kono recalled seeing Yomes crying at the office the morning after the crash.
Yomes, a 39-year-old paramedic, was one of three killed March 8 when another Hawaii Air Ambulance plane crashed into a car lot on Maui.
Last night, about 1,000 friends and relatives packed the chapel at Mililani Memorial Park and Mortuary where services for Yomes were held.
Kono, who spoke with a Japanese accent, evoked laughter when he imitated Yomes, who made him the butt of all her jokes after he asked her weight before boarding a flight. "'You say one more time, I going kick your ass,'" he said. "Ever since, I was scared of her."
But Kono said she was different with others. Her voice was sweet when she spoke to her husband on the phone, and she "communicated with patients from the heart."
Kono broke down, sobbing, as he related how he had promised to keep her safe.
"I couldn't keep my promise," he sobbed. "Every time I think about this, I go crazy."
Many attendees, including colleagues and former co-workers wearing their white Emergency Medical Services or blue Honolulu Fire Department uniforms, had to stand outside.
"We were best friends," said Honolulu firefighter Robert Thurston as tears welled up in his eyes. "She was like a sister to me." Thurston worked with Yomes at Hawaii Air Ambulance.
He was among the many who called Yomes their best friend.
EMS District Chief Bobby Pedro called her "one of our best."
"She was such a happy person. You could have a depressed patient, (and) she can make them as happy as they can be. ... They would be singing in the ER."
EMS paramedic Teresa Allen recalled how Yomes calmed and consoled a boy, about 8 years old, after a minor accident. The boy had been crying uncontrollably and could not be comforted by his own mother.
Mario Fuentes, also an EMS paramedic, said, "Her spirit was always very happy and always looked at the brighter side of everything, including work."
EMS paramedic Laurie Grace called Yomes "one of the best partners you could ever have."
Grace said she could count on Yomes to laugh about a lot of situations, which helped remove the stress. But Grace said it was Yomes' rare honesty that caused so many people to gravitate toward her.
In her eulogy, co-worker Alex Farnsworth said, "She was my voice of reason ... my cheerleader ... my best friend."
"The place that brought us together took you away," she said.