RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Elyzabeth Omnes, 17, grieved yesterday as she showed a photo of her brother, Juanito Omnes Jr., 14, who was killed in a car crash late Wednesday night.
Witness sought in Leeward crash
Relatives and friends mourn crash victim Juanito Omnes Jr., 14
STORY SUMMARY »
Police were looking yesterday for another witness to an apparent street-racing crash that killed a 14-year-old boy riding as a passenger.
Three others were injured in the Village Park crash, including the adult driver.
Juanito Omnes Jr. died Wednesday night after a car he was riding in apparently tried to race another vehicle and crashed. Police are seeking the driver of a maroon Honda as a witness for questioning.
Yesterday, Wahiawa Middle School students mourned the loss of their schoolmate, with several school counselors and therapists to offer counseling.
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Although a ride in a speeding car cost Juanito Omnes Jr. his life, his family bears the driver no ill will.
Juanito Omnes Jr.
Omnes, 14, died after an apparent street-racing accident in Village Park that also hospitalized two boys and the driver, 22-year-old Melvin Taban of Kunia.
"We can't really get mad at him, because if it happened, it happened," Omnes' sister Marjorie said of Taban. "But if he wasn't racing, my brother would still be alive. I don't think I can live a day without seeing my brother."
Police are looking for the second car involved in the race, a maroon Honda, and its owner, as a witness.
At Wahiawa Middle School, where Omnes was an eighth-grader, tearful students filled the hallways yesterday, and more than 100 students piled into the office of Principal Carol Price to share their sense of loss.
Price had to call two counselors, two therapists and three psychologists to deal with the students' grief.
"We let them cry together and holds hands and talk," she said. "We allowed any child who felt they needed to go home to call their parents and leave."
Price said Omnes was well liked among the student body and that the faculty will try to teach them what life lessons can be learned from the accident.
Omnes' father, Juanito Sr., also said he is too busy mourning to harbor anger toward Taban. Instead, he said he wanted to focus on his son's good traits.
"He was a good boy," the father said. "He's not smoking, not doing drugs. I'm so very proud of my boy."
The single-car crash happened at about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday on Anonui Street north of the Puia Street intersection. Taban and Omnes were in the front seat of the black 1995 Honda Prelude. Two boys, ages 12 and 13, sat in the back.
Honolulu police Sgt. Alan Vegas said yesterday that the Prelude was possibly racing with the Honda when the Prelude crossed left of the center line into southbound traffic and hit the curb, a light pole and a fire hydrant.
Omnes, pinned inside the car, was pronounced dead at the scene. Taban and 13-year-old Jake Leano were sent to the Queen's Medical Center in critical condition.
The 12-year-old boy, whose name the family did not know, was hospitalized in serious condition. He was ejected from the vehicle.
Excessive speed and wet roads were factors in the crash, police said.
Omnes is the 53rd Oahu traffic fatality of the year, compared with 79 fatalities at this time last year. He also is the second boy to die this week in a vehicle crash.
On Sunday, 14-year-old Gjino Kanahele died when he lost control of his mo-ped near Waialua.
Anyone with information about the accident is asked to call the Honolulu Police Department's traffic division, or CrimeStoppers at 955-8300 or *CRIME on a cell phone.