A Honolulu police officer who died during a motorcycle training exercise Monday grew up in Lahaina, where he was remembered as a good friend who was well-liked and fun-loving.
Chad Morimoto, 39, attended Lahainaluna High School before moving to Oahu and graduating from high school there.
"We grew up together," said Lahaina resident Kulamanu Kaniho, who lived about three blocks from Morimoto and attended King Kamehameha III Elementary, Lahaina Intermediate and Lahainaluna with him. "I went to school with him since I can remember. We had church activities."
She said Morimoto, who lived in Lahaina with his mother and younger sister, was active in the Lahaina 1st Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Kaniho and others in the Lahainaluna Class of 1990 were surprised and saddened by the news that Morimoto died after falling from his motorcycle during a police training exercise Monday.
Police said he was participating in motorcycle escort training near Mililani District Park on Oahu when his motorcycle slid out from under him and he hit a curb. He was transported in critical condition to a hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.
The investigation into the cause of the crash is continuing, HPD spokeswoman Michelle Yu said Tuesday.
Morimoto had been a Honolulu Police Department officer for eight years and became a motorcycle officer in 2010.
Lahaina resident Rose Padua, who was one of his classmates and friends, said she had been in some contact with Morimoto through Facebook but didn't know he had become a police officer.
From their high school days, she said she wouldn't have expected him to take that career path.
"He always just wanted to go beach and have fun," she said. "We all were outdoors people. We would do whatever, whether it was jumping off the rock, going to Hana, even.
"I don't ever remember him arguing with anyone. I don't ever remember him not liking anyone. He was always smiling and laughing."
Lahaina resident Paul Dean knew Morimoto when he was a "happy-go-lucky" teenager in Lahaina.
"He was well-liked," said Dean, who would see Morimoto at church.
He said Morimoto, who was married and has two children, also was active in the Mormon church on Oahu.
"He has a great family," Dean said. "He was great with them."
His mother, Deborah Morimoto, still lives in Lahaina.
Kaniho said she and Chad Morimoto were "rascals" in their younger days.
"I have pretty much vivid memories of all of us getting out of hand, loving Front Street and loving school," she said. "He totally grew up. To hear he was so successful was so awesome. I know that his mom is so proud of him.
"Now to hear that he passed, it was such a shock.
"I just know him to be a really good friend. He never had any problems with anyone. He was well-liked and had so many friends."
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at email@example.com.