Family, friends mourn death of Kaimuki teen killed in moped cras - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Family, friends mourn death of Kaimuki teen killed in moped crash

Hunter Ortego Hunter Ortego
Hunter and Sheldon Ortego Hunter and Sheldon Ortego
AINA HAINA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

A rock with the words "Aina Haina" marks the entrance to the East Oahu neighborhood. But it is now part of a growing memorial of flowers, candles and other remembrances of Hunter Ortego.

The 17-year-old Ortego died Wednesday after his moped crashed into a pickup truck at the intersection of Kalanianaole Highway and East Hind Drive.

Meanwhile, at Hunter's Kaimuki home, Sheldon Ortego remembers the younger of his two sons.

"He was a typical teenager," Sheldon Ortego says. "He got into trouble, but he was a good-hearted kid."

Ortego was driving home from Hawaii Kai and was among those stuck in traffic on Kalanianaole as police investigated the moped crash. Ortego's older son had already phoned to tell him that Hunter had been in an accident. And then He got a message on his cell phone.

"The notification came through that says 'Accident turns into a fatality.' And that's when I started screaming in the car because I knew it was my son," says Ortego. "But it was so frustrating because it we couldn't move, we couldn't do anything, the roads were blocked. And it took what felt like hours to get to the hospital."

Hunter was already pronounced dead by the time Ortego was able to make it to the Queen's Medical Center.

Ortego talked to Hunter on the phone about 45 minutes before the crash. "Our plan was to meet up at seven o'clock to go play basketball. So that was the last thing, he asked me 'Can we play basketball tonight?' And I said, 'Yeah, I'm on my way home.' And that was the last -- the last thing I heard from him."

Ortego says Hunter was working on the moped as a project and had planned to either sell it or ride it. But he had banned Hunter from riding it until he got a license.

"I don't know why he left the house and why he got on the moped because he knows he wasn't supposed to," says Ortego. "But he's a teenager and he's gonna sneak out to do something and come right back and think he wasn't missed."

Ortego has decided that some good can come out of the tragedy. Hunter's organs will be donated. "I thought it would be worth it, and at least something of my son will live on."

Ortego's phone has been ringing almost nonstop as friends and family call to offer their condolences and help. 

"I just hope no other parent has to go through this," he says. "I know how teenagers are. And they think they're invincible. But the hurt goes way beyond their actions."

As he talks, Sheldon Ortego holds a wristwatch in his hands, rubbing its face with his fingers. Hunter was wearing it when the crash happened.

"I left the hospital with his watch," Ortego says, tears welling in his eyes. "That's what I have left of my son.

"I'm still waiting for him to come home. But he's not going to come home."

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Ortego's family has started a GoFundMe page to help with the expenses for Hunter's funeral and memorial services. Click here for details.

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