HONOLULU(KHON2)–“I saw him. The way he was laying there– it was something that’s going to be hard for me to forget,” Joenel Quimpo said chocking back tears.
Quimpo is still in shock. She was with her boyfriend, Aaron Malama, 43, Wednesday night when he was hit by suspected drunk driver and killed along the H2 freeway.
The couple had been together for six years and Quimpo said she often went with him when he worked his overnight tow shifts at Izzy Tows It. She said she’d go to help him with the paperwork and make sure he didn’t fall asleep at the wheel.
They were hooking up a vehicle to be towed on the northbound Mililani Tech Park off-ramp of H2.
Quimpo said Malama and the customer were standing next to the road on the driver’s side of the car. The vehicle being towed had it’s hazard lights on and the tow truck had its flashing lights on.
She said she was standing on the passenger side and looked down for just a second.
“At that moment, all I heard is a speeding car sound and a big boom and glass shattering everywhere. And I look up and I was the only one standing there. I was the only one visible–there was no one around me.”
She rushed to the other side of the car and saw the customer on the ground then looked up and saw Malama. He had been hit so hard that his body flew into the back of the tow truck.
” I just wanted to know if he was alive. I was like babe will you wake up! Baby please! And I kept calling and I shook him a little bit more telling him wake up please.”
She called 911.
While she was waiting for first responders to arrive, she noticed a car had pulled over in front of the tow truck and saw a woman walking toward her.
“I yelled at her, you go back in your vehicle and you stay there! I didn’t want her to walk up to me. In that state of mind, I didn’t know what my reaction or what I was going to do next,” Quimpo explained.
As the ambulance pulled away to take Malama to the hospital, Quimpo said that she saw police giving the female driver a sobriety test.
According to police, the female driver was arrested for driving under the influence and negligent injury.
Quimpo is grateful she was able to ride with Malama in the ambulance to the hospital even though it was difficult to see him in that state.
“Every bone in his body was basically broken. He broke his neck, his spine was broken, his hip was broken his legs were broken…Eventually after two and a half hours in the doctor came and told me that there’s nothing more they can do for him–he’s not gonna make it.”
She said she called his family and asked them to come to the hospital.
Quimpo said the whole thing still feels like a bad dream.
“We would always say that we were yin and yang. I was the female version of him and he is the male version of me. It was true we had so much in common…I spent six years with him. It hasn’t always been great, we both get our wrongs, but I love him and it’s just hard to deal with,” Quimpo said as tears poured down her cheeks.
“He was still that guy–Mr. Aloha…He is and he’ll always be that.”
In light of the tragedy, Quimpo hopes that people will be more considerate around tow trucks and drive with more aloha in general.
“Hawaii state law says that tow trucks are considered an emergency vehicle therefore you should and have to move over a lane if you see a tow truck on the scene….No matter where you are if their flashing lights are on it’s a warning to let you know stay far stay away, back up.”