Kunia truck crash victims ID'd
Two women from Ewa Beach and two from Waipahu died in the accident Monday
Fifty-nine-year-old Gertrudis Montano of Ewa Beach worked seven days a week as a farm and nursery worker to support her asthmatic husband and send money to the children and grandchildren she left behind in the Philippines six years ago.
"My wife is a very good woman," said her husband Agustin, 65. "She is very good to our children and so with me. She is tired, she doesn't complain."
Montano was one of four women riding in the bed of a pickup truck who were killed in an accident on Kunia Road on Monday morning. Also killed were Lorna Laroco, 53, of Ewa Beach; Ana Sacalamitao, 46, of Waipahu; and Aquilina Polendey, 57, of Waipahu.
Police believe a light-colored car illegally passed other vehicles in a no-pass zone and may have been speeding. The car caused the pickup to swerve into oncoming traffic and the path of a concrete truck, killing the four and injuring eight others, police say.
Four of the injured remain hospitalized yesterday and four were released. Two others had been treated and released Monday.
Montano's daughter-in-law, Aleli Montano, said the women who died were all good friends who worked together for Larry Jefts Farm in Ewa, harvesting tomatoes.
Gertrudis Montano worked at the farm for $8 an hour, and sent money to her three daughters in the Philippines and grandchildren, including a 2-month-old who had an operation recently, her family said last night.
Oliver Montano said they looked everywhere for his mother -- hospitals, police, but finally were referred to the Medical Examiner's Office. They never got a call from police or her employer. They learned of the accident from her co-workers who called them.
"That's when they told me they had one body they could not identify," Aleli said. But the family had to wait till the next morning since the office was closing.
Oliver Montano says what pains him and his family is how the driver of the light-colored car fled.
"The only thing is he ran away and let the cops look for him," he said.
FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Linda Calulot, niece of Lorna Laroco, one of four women killed in Monday's wreck on Kunia Road, was overcome by grief as she talked about Laroco last night. Other relatives also gathered at the family's Ewa Beach home.
It would have been easier for the family to take had the driver stopped "instead of running away," Aleli Montano added.
Lorna Laroco had worked at the farm since 1996.
"My wife, tomato group; I grow cabbage, plantains," said husband Augustin, who worked at the same farm in Ewa.
Her family said the 53-year-old, who came from Bicol, Albay, in the Philippines, was a happy person who took care of her family of two sons, three daughters and eight grandchildren. Dozens of family members came to pay their respects last night.
Niece Linda Calulot sobbed: "My auntie, I love her because she is a nice woman. She is working hard, she is a good mother, grandmother."
Agustin Laroco was at the farm when he learned of the accident about 9:30 a.m. and was told to go to the Queen's Medical Center.
FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
The family of Gertrudis Montano comforted one another. They included Montano's daughter-in-law and son, Aleli and Oliver Montano, left, and her husband Zacarias.
"We didn't find her there," said son Edgar Laroco. After going to the police station, they finally found her at the Medical Examiner's Office about 2 p.m. and his dad and brother-in-law identified her body.
He said the family is saddened by what happened.
"It happened so fast," he said. "We didn't expect this to happen."
Rex Polendey said his mother, Aquilina, had dreams of retiring with her husband to the Philippines in a few years when she turned 62.
"You need justice," said Rex's fiancee, Rizza Visedo.
Aquilina "is too young," Visedo added. "She's so strong, so happy to go to work and it happened. We need justice. We not blaming anybody because we don't know what happened."
Police are asking for any witnesses to the 7:35 a.m. accident Monday near the entrance to the Royal Kunia subdivision to call 529-3499 or CrimeStoppers at 955-8300.