Federal guard, medic die in Nimitz double fatality
By Leila Fujimori
POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Dec 18, 2008
When Gregg Gurtiza of Salt Lake failed to arrive home late Tuesday night, his parents were not concerned.
Merlin and Karen Gurtiza of Salt Lake thought their youngest of four children had worked a double shift as a guard at the Federal Detention Center, adjacent to the airport.
Karen Gurtiza said she watched the morning news, which carried a report of a horrific accident on Nimitz Highway under the H-1 airport viaduct, where a motorcycle slammed into a car turning left.
She never thought the victim could be Gregg, 35.
But they received a grim call later yesterday morning from the city Medical Examiner’s Office.
The medical examiner said yesterday that Gurtiza died of multiple trauma blunt force injuries in the 12:45 a.m. crash.
Gurtiza, who was driving home after work, was turning left from Nimitz Highway onto Camp Catlin Road when he was hit by a motorcyclist who was traveling west, police said.
Police said the motorcycle came at such speed that it penetrated the passenger side of the black 2008 four-door Nissan sedan, causing it to roll over onto its roof.
The motorcyclist and his 2007 maroon Kawasaki were lodged inside the car, police said. He was also pronounced dead at the scene. They were the 43rd and 44th traffic fatalities for Oahu this year.
The motorcyclist was identified as a medic at Tripler Army Medical Center.
“You would think a guy in that profession — taking care of human life — would value that more than anything else,” said Gurtiza’s father.
He said military members are often involved in traffic accidents in the Nimitz area.
“They’re young, they like to have a good time, but it seems they cause a lot of the accidents and fatalities around here,” said Merlin Gurtiza. “At one time I was young and in the military. You got to weigh the good times and the value of people’s lives.”
Merlin Gurtiza said he could not grasp how a man in a car could be killed by a motorcycle. But he compared it to a bullet traveling at high speed.
Gregg Gurtiza graduated from a high school at Camp Zama on the outskirts of Tokyo and attended Honolulu Community College, where he studied criminal justice. He has been employed at the Federal Detention Center for about six years.
He is also survived by siblings Grant, Guy and Gay Tanap, all of Oahu.