By Teri Okita - email
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It was the last thing a group of Masons expected when the men wrapped up their lunch meeting at Treetops Restaurant at Paradise Park in Manoa Thursday afternoon. All witnesses could hear was a dragging sound through the gravel as 65-year-old Charles Wegener hit four of his fellow Masons with an SUV pinning two of them under the vehicle.
"We told the driver, "Stop, stop, stop", and he was still rolling," says witness Tammy Warren. She was finishing a hike at nearby Manoa Falls when she saw the incident.
Wegener was moving his friend's SUV in the Treetops Restaurant parking lot when he lost control of the vehicle. Witnesses believe the SUV had been modified for the disabled, and Wegener just wasn't used to driving it. Despite screams from onlookers, Wegener didn't stop.
Jeff Curry was another witness: "I think he was probably in shock. He just kept on going".
Curry and others recalled trying to comfort one of the elderly victims who was pinned underneath the vehicle. "He was gasping. He was crushed by the undercarriage and the back tire, and I was talking to him, trying to reassure him we were going to get him out."
The two were eventually rescued, but their injuries were so extensive that they died at Queens Medical Center. Authorities identified the two men killed as 68-year-old Dexter Lum of Honolulu and 77-year old Martin H Y Wong of Kaneohe. Straub Hospital officials say a third victim, an 81-year-old, is in stable condition. A fourth man was treated at the scene and is okay.
Police arrested Wegener on two counts of suspicion of negligent homicide. Honolulu police Lieutenant David Nilsen says it's standard procedure to make an arrest and question the driver as the investigation unfolds.
Most of the men at the luncheon are retirees and friends from a local chapter of Masons called Opukahaia Conclave. They go to Treetops three to four times a year to talk story and discuss philanthropy. Restaurant employees say the group was having a good time until this happened.