HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Those who knew him say Honolulu police officer Eric Charles Fontes viewed being a cop as his dream job. He graduated from the police academy in 2005 and was named most inspirational officer in his class.
He died Tuesday night after being struck by a vehicle during a routine traffic stop on Farrington Highway.
"Today we mourn the death of officer Eric Fontes and are shocked by the traffic incident that took his life," Chief Louis Kealoha said.
His relative BJ Younce said she was stuck in the traffic that backed up after the accident.
"The whole time I was thinking, 'Please don't let it be uncle Eric. Please don't let it be uncle Eric.' But it was," she said.
Fontes grew up on Molokai and graduated from Molokai High School in 1984. He moved to the Big Island then Oahu, where he worked in security at Ala Moana Center. He got married and immersed himself in his Christian faith.
"Even when he would say he had to arrest somebody, he would also be ministering to them in the car, trying to comfort them, trying to tell them what they did wrong," church friend Tommy Goo said.
On some Sundays Fontes, 45, preached the sermon at Ka Hale Hoano O Ke Akua church in Kalihi. He sang in the choir, assisted in the prison ministry, and led a weekly Bible study. Monday was his last.
"Uncle Eric was a real inspirational person. All the times I've been around him, he was a real humble person," relative Kiki Keala said.
Fontes told his family he wanted to eventually become a police chaplain.
He worked nearly seven years out of the Kapolei station as a patrol officer. For his family, his death is déjà vu.
"He actually died the same way my uncle died on the Big Island. My uncle was an officer, too. On duty, he died from a DUI driver," relative Kenneth Younce said.
At police headquarters, HPD set up a memorial for Fontes. A portrait of the fallen officer was flanked by police boots and gloves, a framed American flag, and a candle. He is the forty second Honolulu police officer killed in the line of duty.
"As a community, we share in the loss of this fine officer," Kealoha said.
"For all of us, we know God has one more angel, wearing a blue suit," Goo said.
Fontes is survived by his wife, their children and grandchildren, and relatives on Molokai and Oahu.