Man fatally crushed by two trucks was towing mother-in-law's vehicle

Man fatally crushed by two trucks was towing mother-in-law's vehicle
Kopa Talamoa
Kopa Talamoa

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

WAIANAE (HawaiiNewsNow) - The man who was crushed to death by two trucks on the H-1 Freeway in Kapolei over the weekend was towing his mother-in-law's vehicle at the time. Grieving family members described Poasi Paongo, 39, as a hard-working, good man.

The truck being towed had not been used in quite some time. Kopa Talamoa says her son-in-law wanted to fix it up and give it to his nephew.

Talamoa says it really hasn't sunk in that her son-in-law is dead.

"I can't believe it was him, you know, I don't believe," she said. "They left the house and they asked me, mommy, you want to go Kalihi. I said no, you guys go. I'll wait for you guys at home."

Paongo, his wife and his two sons from a prior relationship went to Kalihi to pick up Talamoa's old Ford truck, but it wouldn't run and had to be towed. Police say the white truck and Paongo's red Chevy pickup stopped in the right lane of the H-1 Freeway in Kapolei Saturday, when the rope connecting the two vehicles became entangled.

"He must be underneath the car to fix," Talamoa said. "Probably he wen come out, and then the lady wen bang the truck."

A 58-year-old woman crashed her van into the rear truck. Paongo was between the two pickups and was crushed.

"The two boys just standing there asked the mom what happened. She said your daddy no can get up," the victim's mother-in-law said. "They just tried to carry him and wake him up. He's gone. He tried to feel a pulse. Gone."

Family members say the victim had a troubled past, but he met his current wife, started attending church regularly and, a couple of years ago, managed to bring his teenaged sons over from Tonga to live with him.

"I never know it was going to happen like this," Talamoa said. "He's a good, he's a hard-working man. He's a good one."

She says she enjoyed cooking big meals for her son-in-law, who worked long hours as a tree trimmer.

"He eat a lot because he hard work," Talamoa said. "Whatever I give him, he eat. He's so happy."

"Now I told my daughter, so who, now who am I going to cook and who am I going to give it to," she continued through tears. "He always sit in the middle over there every day."

Investigators say it doesn't appear as though alcohol and drugs were involved in the deadly crash, but they're still trying to determine if speed was a factor.

No one else was seriously injured.

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