Family of slain pilot tells tragedy has returned with deadly new twist

HONOLULU — Away from work and out of town, it can be a chore to make a turn from a major thoroughfare.

So when a driver was approaching the intersection of an island road on the North Shore of Oahu, he or she may have been encouraged to lean on the head-banging device that stuck out from beneath a pickup truck.

The artesian sign post was more than a welcoming diversion from the road, it was a temptation of a kind that would have surely earned a playful nod and a wink.

But the sign itself, installed by McGibbins & Associates of Woodland Park, Colorado, in June, looked like a sign of things to come.

It was a nod to the collision that had killed 49-year-old Capt. Koichi “Chris” Nakayama in Hawaii in 2013. According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Nakayama had been at the scene of another head-on crash a few weeks earlier and had been thinking about those crashes that had left him concerned about the equipment on the island road.

He had envisioned the Nangama Family Disaster Relief Foundation giving a donation to McGibbins for a signpost for a designated route for motorists to not lean against.

“I really felt that Chris would appreciate that signpost. He would be proud,” said brother Charlie Nakayama, a spokesman for the foundation.

When the donation got no response, the Nakayama Brothers met up with Luke Spence, a general manager at McGibbins.

They didn’t have a ship to put on the mast for the sign. Spence suggested that the Nakayama Brothers come by and put a donation form in front of the sign.

“We went out and talked to him about the sign, and gave him a form to take back to his foundation. In the end, he is going to change it,” Spence said.

The brothers started talking about ways to put their contribution into effect, and the signing idea immediately came to mind.

“I remember me laughing and Jake saying, ‘OK, let’s use the sign,’” Charlie Nakayama said.

The pressure to make things happen kept on building.

“I think that’s exactly what we did,” Spence said.

The sign had no markings and no name attached to it, just the words “No Bending.”

On Saturday, Captain Koichi Nakayama would have been celebrating his 50th birthday.

The Nakayama Brothers announced on their Facebook page that they had recently worked out a deal to put the sign in place.

But that night, they left a message on Facebook saying they were still working on getting it commissioned and that it was not done yet.

On Sunday night, Mr. Spence and the Nakayama Brothers were chatting and the idea of a heads-down collision barrier was mentioned. It was an ideal idea, Charlie Nakayama said.

“Even though it was not a tribute to his death, to provide people with safety awareness, I believe that to be a tribute to his life,” Charlie Nakayama said.

“At the end of the day, the Nakayama Brothers did a lot more for us, and I think we are so grateful for it.”

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