A dear classmate and "brother" to many, Jared K.S. Alvarez of Lahaina died after his vehicle struck a telephone pole Sunday morning in Olowalu.
"He was like a brother to me," said Kana Souza, a close friend and classmate of the 2011 Kamehameha Schools Maui graduate. "I've been through a lot with him. It's unreal right now. . . . He's gone."
Alvarez, 19, was driving north on Honoapiilani Highway at around 2:30 a.m. when his 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee traveled onto the shoulder and overturned back onto the road, police said. The vehicle then traveled across the roadway and hit a telephone pole on the opposite shoulder about 1.2 miles north of Olowalu Road.
Jared K.S. Alvarez
The lone occupant in the vehicle, Alvarez was ejected upon impact and died at the scene, said Lt. Wayne Ibarra.
"We just went to visit him right now," said Souza in a phone call Sunday afternoon. "It's surreal. Why him? Why Alvarez? He's Mister Aloha. I miss him, I love him."
Friends and family held a service near the accident site in remembrance of the teenager who Souza described as an "old soul (who) always had a big group of friends around him."
Nico Lopes, who had known Alvarez since the 4th grade, said that he was like a brother to all of his classmates and always knew how to brighten someone's day.
"He was always a funny storyteller," Lopes said. "He knew how to tell the story and make you laugh. . . . Whether he just met you or knew you for years, he was always trying to welcome you."
Alvarez played four years of football at Kamehameha Maui, primarily as an offensive lineman, but was never a full-time starter. Regardless, teammates Lopes and Souza said that he played hard, "left it all out on the field," in Lopes' words.
"In one practice freshman year, we were all tired and saw him passed out on the field," Souza joked.
Classmate Riley Yap characterized Alvarez as a brother and said it was a "heavy day for all of our classmates."
"I called as many people that I knew," he said. "Most of them already hear, but I told them that I loved them and to be safe.
"The moments I spent with Jared were some of the best moments of my life. He was . . . one of the best friends I could have."
Souza said he saw Alvarez on Saturday and talked with him and his family.
"The last thing he said was, 'Shoots, my braddha,' " Souza said.
Alvarez had recently started working at Kahului Airport and was driving home from a late shift, Souza said.
Police are investigating the possibility of speed, alcohol and drugs as factors in the crash.
The traffic fatality is Maui County's fourth this year, compared to five at the same time last year.
"It's really shocking to hear something happen to such a nice person," said Lopes. "You just don't think it could happen to certain people."
* Chris Sugidono can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.