KAILUA (HawaiiNewsNow) - The 31-year-old driver who allegedly hit a newspaper seller in Kailua tearfully apologized on Tuesday. The Kaneohe man said he is sorry, but he doesn't remember the crash. He said he was on his way home because he had to pick up his children. He told Hawaii News Now that he is praying for the victim's recovery.
George Ligman, 62, has been a familiar fixture for years on the grassy median along Kalanianaole Highway near Castle Medical Center.
"He's just always somebody that I wave to and my husband buys the paper from him every day," said driver Tori Goto.
Police said Ligman was partially in the roadway when a truck heading west in the left lane of Kalanianaole Highway hit him at about 5:15 p.m. on Monday. The vehicle eventually ended up near Castle Medical Center.
Paramedics took Ligman to Queen's Medical Center in critical condition. The driver was taken to the hospital in serious condition before being released on Monday night. Police said it's unknown if speed or alcohol were factors in the crash.
"I want him to hang in there. Get better. Come back. There's a lot of people that are looking for him and they miss him," said a Kailua resident named John.
The driver told Hawaii News Now that he had been fighting a cold. He said he was in the right lane when he started coughing. He said he doesn't remember hitting Ligman because he blacked out and didn't come to until the truck crashed near the medical center.
"Always just see him handing out papers on the side of the road with a smile on his face. Throw him a shaka little bit and he always smiles. Seemed like such a happy guy," said Kailua resident Brandon Lodge.
Councilman Ikaika Anderson helped to cut the grass on the median during a recent cleanup so that Ligman would be more visible to drivers. Ligman and his wife had been living in a van for a couple of years, according to his relatives. They said he is an Army veteran who walks with a limp because of a motorcycle crash years ago.
"There's a dirt path. He walks that path every single day. All day long. Every day of the year. He's a hard-working guy," said Goto.
About 5,000 Oceanic Cable customers in Kailua and Kaneohe lost cable TV, Internet and telephone service for most of Tuesday after a damaged telephone pole was removed following the crash. A spokesperson said service was restored to all the customers by 9:25 p.m.