WAHIAWA (HawaiiNewsNow) - Friends of a teen bicyclist killed in a hit-and-run crash in Wahiawa Friday are being credited for locating a suspect and the vehicle believed to be involved.
Friends say cycling was a relatively new hobby for Zachary Manago, who was an all-star baseball player when he was in high school.
Small Christmas trees, balloons and a gingerbread house. They were among the items left at the site of a crash that killed Zachary Manago, 18.
"Out of our group of friends, it's kind of hard 'cause it was basically the nicest guy," Tim Arakawa, victim's friend, said. "The most genuine-hearted guy got taken from us. I just wish it wasn't him. I really wish it was me rather than him."
The Moanalua High graduate and pitcher for the Hawaii Pacific University baseball team was struck from behind while riding with a large group of bicyclists on Kamehameha Highway near Leilehua Golf Course Road Friday night.
After two days without an arrest, his cycling friends took it upon themselves to find the driver who fled the scene.
"Anybody who knew him and, especially since they were the ones with him that night, I think it was really important for them to find him," Mazie Coloma, victim's friend, said.
The victim's friends searched Launani Valley, which is located near the crash site, discovered a damaged white Saturn SUV at an townhouse complex and notified police. Officers arrested the registered owner of the vehicle, Douglas Curtis, 25, on suspicion of negligent homicide and failure to render aid.
"It doesn't bring Zach back," Arakawa said. "I mean, whether the guy gets arrested or not, whether he gets charged or not, the fact is whoever did this is going to have to live with the thought of knowing that they killed somebody so dear to this world."
The suspect declined an on-camera interview, but said, "I feel for (the victim's family), but I still don't believe it was me. I didn't know I hit someone. I don't want to say anything until the investigation is complete."
Friends say Manago was a strong Christian man with forgiveness in his heart.
"It's just one of the things that encouraged me a lot about him, that made him a role model to everybody was the kind of heart that he had for people, the kind of compassion that he had for people," Maurice Tokuda, victim's friend, said.
Curtis was released from custody pending further investigation, which is standard in vehicular homicide cases.