Cycling buddy recounts horror of seeing man die


POSTED: Monday, July 27, 2009

Moments before the crash early Saturday morning, Casey Kunishige saw his buddy's arm moving to the music outside the window of the Corvette that was waiting for the light ahead of him.

When the signal turned green, his friend, Dean Gomes, paused before pulling into the Kapolei intersection.

“;The SUV came from nowhere,”; Kunishige said. “;All I seen was a crash and seen his Corvette fly in the air.”;

Gomes, 52, of Ewa Beach, who a friend said is the father of three adult children, died at the scene at about 1:30 a.m. Police said the 27-year-old Makakilo woman driving the sport utility vehicle, allegedly drunk and speeding, ran a red light at the intersection of Fort Barrette Road and Kapolei Parkway.

After the crash, Kunishige got out of his truck and ran to Gomes, who was still alive in the car. He knew his buddy would not make it.

“;He looked me in the eye and said, 'You know what? I love you, Casey. I love you, brother,'”; Kunishige said.

The driver of the SUV and her 28-year-old passenger were unharmed. Police arrested her on suspicion of first-degree negligent homicide.

The woman stepped out of her vehicle after the crash and asked what happened, Kunishige said.

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The driver suspected of causing the deadly collision in Kapolei was released from police custody pending further investigation.



“;She had no clue that she had just killed somebody,”; Kunishige said. “;She didn't comprehend.”;

Kunishige later heard her screaming.

He said he has already forgiven the woman, who was released by police after her arrest pending further investigation.

“;She already got the one mistake to live with for the rest of her life,”; Kunishige said.

Gomes, known as “;Cheech”; and “;Chopper Dean,”; was a member of the Koa Puna motorcycle club on the Big Island. He drove a Harley-Davidson Springer Softail.

Motorcycle clubs rode yesterday past the crash site, marked by the remnants of police flares and flower and balloon bouquets placed by friends.

The early morning crash awoke the Sua family, whose home is near the intersection. Sol Sua said the crash was the worst he had seen at the intersection.

Gomes often rode with Kunishige, the vice president of the Hawaiian Iron motorcycle club.

“;He's so much an inspiration to everybody,”; Kunishige said.

Gomes also worked with Kunishige as an apprentice ceramic tile setter. He moved to Oahu from the Big Island about 10 years ago.

“;It's kind of tragic,”; said Ellsworth Fontes, who had known Gomes since their days at Hilo High School.

Fontes, president of the Rock & Roll motorcycle club on the Big Island, described Gomes as a “;happy-go-lucky guy”; who enjoyed driving motorcycles and sports cars.

“;You hear about these accidents all the time, and then it happens to one of your friends,”; Fontes said. “;It's just terrible.”;

Kunishige said friends are planning a motorcycle run on the Big Island to spread Gomes' ashes.



Star-Bulletin reporter Darin Moriki contributed to this story.