Department mourns loss of two Big Island firefighters

  • Eric Hayashi

CORRECTION: Eric Hayashi died Aug. 8, 2020. A previous version of this story erroneously stated he died this year. In addition, according to family, Tabitha Tomori is a hanai daughter, contrary to information received from the Hawaii Firefighters Association website, which was printed in the previous version. The Tribune-Herald regrets the errors.

The Hawaii Fire Department is mourning the loss of two firefighters who have died during the pandemic, one of COVID-19.

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Eric Hayashi, a 49-year-old fire equipment operator, died Aug. 8, 2020, in the line of duty, according to the Hawaii Firefighters Association website.

Hayashi will be honored this weekend at the 40th Annual National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend at the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial on the campus of the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland. His name will be among those of 215 firefighters that will become a permanent part of the national memorial in honor of their sacrifices.

On Saturday evening, the families of America’s fallen firefighters will gather for a candlelight service. On Sunday morning, firefighter hero families will participate in the memorial service.

The Saturday candlelight service will start at 1 p.m. Hawaii time, while the Sunday memorial service will begin at 4 a.m. Hawaii time. Both events will be streamed live online at https://bit.ly/3unekGy, with streaming to begin a half-hour prior to the ceremonies.

Eighty-seven firefighters died in the line of duty in 2020. Eighty-two firefighters died in 2019. Forty-six firefighters who died in the line of duty in previous years will also be honored. The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation will present each family with an American flag flown over the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial and the U.S. Capitol.

Hayashi, a 24-year veteran of the department, was on duty when he himself experienced a medical emergency. He was immediately taken to Hilo Medical Center, where he died a short time later of a heart attack.

Hayashi is survived by mother, Aileen Hayashi; brother, Brandon Hayashi; longtime companion, Barian Buyuan; and hanai daughter, Tabitha Tomori.

The other firefighter being mourned by his fellow firefighters is Lane “Keoki” Lindsey, a 49-year-old Waimea firefighter who died Saturday, according to the HFFA website.

“The entire HFFA Ohana sends our sincere condolences to his family, friends, and brothers and sisters of the Hawaii Fire Department,” HFFA President Bobby Lee wrote on the union website.

Lindsey, a 20-year veteran, had been battling COVID-19 at The Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu. Lindsey, who was unvaccinated, contracted the novel coronavirus and became sick in August.

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He’s survived by his longtime partner, Sommer Kanoe Bertelmann, and sons, Paniau, Kinohi and Kinamai.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.