Updated at 12:15 p.m., Friday, August 1, 2003
Goto remembered for his generosity, big heart
|Motorcycle officers lead the way today as a hearse carrying Ryan Goto travels past Honolulu Police Department headquarters on Beretania Street.
Bruce Asato The Honolulu Advertiser
It lasted only a few moments as Goto’s white hearse glided past the Honolulu Police Department headquarters. The procession, led by eight motorcycles in an arrow formation, was headed for Hawaiian Memorial Park in KÅne‘ohe for burial services.
In its wake, officers exhaled, ashen-faced as they walked away.
It had been a rough two days. Yesterday at memorial services, Goto’s friends, family and relatives said goodbye to an officer that they described as a big guy, with an even bigger heart — a regular teddy bear.
Fellow officers said they dubbed Goto “Tender Heart Bear,” after the Care Bears cartoon character, because in spite of his daring, larger-than-life motorcycle officer personality, there was a soft side to him.
“Ryan was generous with whatever he had — time, money, friendship. If you needed him, he was there,” said officer Everett Higa.
Goto, a 12-year HPD veteran, died July 23 while on duty, riding his motorcycle on Farrington Highway to conduct traffic stops. Two other motorcycle officers were injured in the accident that occurred when a car traveling in the opposite direction collided with another car, sending it across a grass median and into the path of the officers.
|Officers salute today as the hearse carrying the body of fallen Officer Ryan Goto passes Honolulu Police department headquarters on Beretania Street.
Bruce Asato The Honolulu Advertiser
Karin Williams, the woman driving the car that hit the officers, was injured and her 10-year-old daughter was killed.
Throughout the day, an estimated 1,000 people, many wearing law enforcement uniforms and some sporting motorcycle leathers, paid their respects to Goto at Borthwick Mortuary’s Maunakea Chapel.
Rows of police motorcycles and squad cars lined the street as hundreds of police officers from all over the state were joined by firefighters and other state and federal officers.
It was standing room only at the tearful 3 p.m. memorial service.
Mourners yesterday said it was “a very emotional” service. Many of the officers who spoke had a difficult time finishing their eulogies and sharing stories about their friend and comrade. Among the speakers was officer John Jervis, who was involved in the accident and helped pull officers David Bega and Paul Javier to safety. Javier is still recovering at The Queen’s Medical Center.
Jervis said Goto’s ready smile and good nature as well as his passion for riding will preserve his memory.
“We will ride again, and I’ll have the opportunity to look to my left again and see Ryan there. He was one of the people who made the Honolulu Police Department Hawai‘i’s finest,” Jervis said.
Officer John Esteban, one of Goto’s best friends, said, “He was born to ride. And his passion for riding outweighed the hazards of this job.”
Becoming a police officer and riding motorcycles were two things Goto had dreamed about since childhood, said his father, Alan Goto of Honolulu.
Goto started his career in corrections at the Waiawa Correctional Facility, joining the Honolulu police force in 1990 as a recruit. Five years ago, he transferred into the traffic division as part of what fellow officers describe as the “high-risk” motorcycle patrol unit.
At the time of his death, Goto was the second most senior officer in the specialized motorcycle detail, which numbers about 40.
Since 1923, 11 motorcycle officers have been killed while on duty. Goto was the 38th Honolulu police officer killed in the line of duty.
Just five months ago, HPD lost 40-year-old officer Glen Gaspar, who was shot and killed as he struggled to arrest an attempted-murder suspect inside the Baskin-Robbins shop in Kapolei Shopping Center.
“This is very hard for us. Just a few months ago we laid our brother Glen Gaspar to rest,” said Honolulu officer Tenari Ma‘afala. “This was a pretty somber event. It was a dark day for all of us.”
As strong and stoic as Goto’s fellow officers appeared outside the chapel, inside mourners said they couldn’t hide their tears.
At one point during the event, several family members were so affected by a musical tribute to Goto that they had to leave the service. The Kanikapila Kops, a musical group comprised of HPD officers, sang throughout the ceremony.
Goto’s dad, his fiancée Dawn Metzger of Kalihi, whom he was to marry in September, his 6-year-old son and other family members wept throughout the service. Lionel and Judy Aono, Goto’s aunt and uncle spoke during the service.
Flowers from law enforcement agencies throughout the state lined the walls of the funeral home. A large banner of Goto in his uniform graced the entrance.
Inside the chapel, the uniformed Goto lay in an open casket. Goto’s helmet and a shadow box containing his badge and the uniform patch of a solo motorcycle patrol officer were next to the casket.
After the service, hundreds of officers representing nearly every city, state and federal agency based in Hawai‘i lined up on the street to pay tribute to Goto. As the officers broke formation to go back into the chapel, Esteban pointed to the sky in memory of his friend.
Reach Allison Schaefers at email@example.com or 535-8110.