Army officials identify soldier involved in fatal motorcycle crash

Witness interview to motorcyclist death
Published: Jan. 27, 2017 at 6:30 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 28, 2017 at 3:11 PM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A body discovered on the H-1 Freeway westbound Friday was a motorcyclist who had crashed nearly 12 hours before, police said.

Army officials identified the man as Spc. Patrick James Rodgers, 26, of Willis Texas.

Rodgers was a specialist assigned to 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division. A wheeled vehicle mechanic, Rodgers enlisted in the Army in March 2010.

Rodgers previously served in Oklahoma and South Carolina, and moved to Schofield Barracks in July 2014. Rodgers deployed once to Kuwait for 12 months in 2012. He was a recipient of two Army Achievement Medals, the Army Good Conduct Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal, among others.

Police said Rodgers' body was discovered about 11 a.m. Friday in an area concealed by the freeway guard rail near the Palama Street off-ramp.

Police officers had responded to the scene just after midnight Friday, when they got a report about the crash. But while they found the motorcycle at the scene, they couldn't find its operator.

Orren Balonso of Kapolei was driving home from his job in Waikiki after midnight on the freeway when he noticed two motorcyclists in his rear view mirror.

"The two bikes, they took off, and it appeared they were racing," he said. "They were going to fast that I lost sight of them within a couple of seconds."

He said a few moments later he came upon the crash scene, with one motorcycle on its side in the far left lane of the freeway.

"I pulled over and I put my car in front of the bike to let other people know -- oncoming traffic -- there's an accident over here. Watch out," he said.

Police arrived a few minutes later and Balonso continued on his way home.

Police said Rodgers was wearing a helmet, and speed is believed to be a factor in the crash.

Authorities said when officers responded to the scene at 12:30 a.m., the area was not well lit. A traffic collision report was created, and police are trying to determine how Rodgers' body was not found.

"It was located a considerably far distance from the motorcycle, and it wasn't in the roadway," said Lt. Carlene Lau, of the Honolulu Police Department's traffic division. "It was in an area concealed by the guardrail, it wasn't actually on the roadway."

Balonso and other motorists who stopped to help -- including another motorcycle rider who wasn't connected to the other two bikes -- also looked.

"We just checked in that area where we found the bike," he said. "We checked on the opposite side of the highway going eastbound. And we checked both sides over the bridge. And we didn't find anything."

Balonso said the motorcycle was at least a hundred feet past where Rodgers' body was discovered.

"Maybe he hit the guardrail, flew off his bike, and then the bike just slid to where we found it."

Two westbound lanes of the H-1 Freeway were closed for more than an hour Friday afternoon while police investigated.

The lanes were reopened by 1:45 p.m.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the friends and family of Specialist Rodgers at this difficult time," said Maj. Gen. Christopher Cavoli, commander of the 25th Infantry Division in a statment. "The safety of each and every soldier within the 25th is of paramount importance, and it is a terrible tragedy to lose one of our own."

Balonso believes the other motorcyclist should come forward.

"It's not funny," he said. "You know, someone lost their life speeding. It could happen to any of us, any of our family members."

Copyright 2017 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.