Saturday, August 14, 1999

By Gary Kubota, Star-Bulletin
Pallbearers carry the casket of Maui police officer
Gene Williams after services yesterday in Kahului.

Maui police officer
mourned as dedicated
servant, family man

Gene V. Williams died
Monday on traffic duty
in a fiery freak accident

By Gary T. Kubota
Maui correspondent


WAILUKU -- With music from a solitary bagpiper, hundreds of residents yesterday mourned the death of Maui police officer Gene V. Williams, who was fatally pinned under a car after a fiery crash.

He was buried yesterday at the veterans cemetery in Makawao.

Friends said Williams loved being a police officer and enforcing traffic laws to improve road safety. They recalled how a man stopped by Williams for drunken driving later thanked him for helping to turn his life around.

Williams died Monday after a pickup truck struck the back of a car that ran over and then pinned him while he was directing traffic at a west Maui construction site. Authorities say the car burst into flames upon impact.

Special to the Star-Bulletin
Williams, an officer for four years, also
served in the National Guard.

The driver of the truck, Ricardo Rodriguez-Pantoja, a Mexican national who entered the United States illegally, is being held on $100,000 bail after being charged with a number of counts, including manslaughter and failing to render aid.

Williams is the fourth Maui police officer to die in the line of duty since 1941.

"We put ourselves on the line for everybody," Darrin Dettloff, a police beat partner with Williams, told a funeral gathering at Kahului Baptist Church. "You never realize the reality of the situation until you lose a brother or sister (officer)."

Dettloff said he never heard a police officer say, "I love this job," as much as Williams did.

Williams, 38, a police officer for four years and a captain in the National Guard, was described as an intelligent, deeply religious man who loved his wife, Dee, his daughter and infant son.

Williams served as an intelligence officer in the National Guard and was conversant in Russian.

Maui Mayor James Apana said Williams was doing traffic duty to earn extra money to enable his wife to remain at home with her two children. He wanted to make sure he could provide for his family.

Williams, born in Jackson, Miss., was accepted to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md., after graduating from high school in New Orleans.

He decided to attend Auburn University and later graduated from Louisiana State University and received a U.S. Army commission as a lieutenant.

He moved to Maui several years ago after marrying his wife, whose grandparents live in Hana.

His mother, Colleen Williams, described her son as born with a smile. She recalled how he played violin at a recital in a dirty baseball uniform, with no time to change clothes after winning a league championship.

She said she felt her son could have been anything he desired, but he wanted to be a Maui police officer.

The Rev. Paul Kaneshiro said much of the funeral ceremony yesterday was planned by Williams, who talked with him and his wife about dying.

Kaneshiro said Williams was prepared to die if necessary in the service of his community.

"It was as if God gave to him an understanding of the future," Kaneshiro said.

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