Friends and colleagues of Officer Christopher Sugimoto say he will be missed but never forgotten. Officer Sugimoto was only 38-years-old with a zest for life. A severe asthma attack sent him to the hospital where he later died on Wednesday. Sugimoto’s organs were donated to continue to help others, a testament to the kind of man he was.
Sugimoto lived his dream of being a police officer. He was on the force for five years, assigned to the South Hilo Patrol Division.
“He really loved his job. I think the thing he liked the most about the job was getting to know the community and getting to know the aloha spirit,” said friend and colleague Nashly Leslie.
Originally from California, Officer Sugimoto quickly made Hawaii home and his close friends turned into family.
“This was his home. He embodied everything about Hawaii, the lifestyle, the culture, the people,” said Jade Thomas, Sugimoto’s girlfriend. “He wanted to help people even to the very end. He’d want to help people any way he could.”
And that’s what happened, Sugimoto’s family had consented to donate his organs so that others could live. But he wasn’t alone. Friends, family, and dozens of police officers sent Sugimoto off on his last mission.
“They had like a procession at the hospital from the ICU to the operating room,” said Leslie.
In a statement the Police Chief Paul Ferreira said:
“We have indeed lost one of the Hawai`i Police Department’s finest with the untimely passing of Officer Christopher Sugimoto who befell and succumbed to a sudden illness. Chris who was assigned to the South Hilo Patrol Division had recently completed his fifth year as a member of our department. His fellow co-workers have described him as a deeply caring, unselfish individual who was always looking to help others and it was no surprise to learn that his family had consented to donate Chris’ organs so that he could continue to help others. His passing will serve to remind all of us as to how precious life is and of how the very best of us often strive to give our very best to others. He will be greatly missed, but in our hearts, never forgotten!”
“I felt this calming sense and I think that was Chris saying goodbye and it’s not necessary goodbye because he’s always here with me,” said Thomas.
According to the Legacy of Life Hawaii, Sugimoto’s organ donation already saved 2 lives in Hawaii. He gave the gift of sight to 2 people and helped dozens of others through tissue donations.
To help Sugimoto’s family, click here.