Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A friend in need

On Friday July 13th of this year, my friend Komei Oka was brutally attacked in Encinitas, CA. He was on his way to local burrito joint Filiberto's to grab a burrito before heading home. In the restaurant was another man, who was apparently giving many of the people inside a hard time. An acquaintance of mine, John, told him to take a hike, at which point he got in John's face. Filiberto's staff, apparently expecting something bad to happen, asked both of them to leave. Immediately after heading out the door John was apparently cold cocked by the man. Another blow to the face left him on the ground with a broken nose.

It was at this point that Komei arrived to the scene to see John sitting on a nearby bench, bloodied from the recent attack, and to hear another in a shouting match with John's assailant. Komei remembers heading towards him, but little after that. Witnesses say that it was then that John's attacker went to work on Komei. When he was done Komei was left on the ground, drifting in and out consciousness, with most of the bones in his face broken and five of his lower teeth missing. He was rushed to the Scripps La Jolla Trauma Center and into the care of Dr. Jeff Umansky (Dr. J), who spent six and a half hours in surgery reconstructing Komei's face three days later. The surgery was originally expected to take four hours. Komei ultimately spent nearly a week in a hospital bed recovering from the trauma.

Komei and John's attacker has since been charged with numerous criminal offenses, including battery with serious bodily injury, assault with deadly weapon, torture and aggravated mayhem. The latter two carry a maximum sentence of life without parole. It's unknown whether or not he will plead guilty to the charges or whether the case will go to trial.

Komei recently earned his degree, and was hoping to use it to get a job in the action sports industry here in southern California. In the meantime, he had been working at a local pizza shop, where he was promoted to store manager shortly before the attack. Unfortunately, the medical insurance that came with the position hadn't "kicked in" yet, which means that Komei was uninsured. He had literally signed the papers while in the hospital. Additionally, because his recovery took him out of action for so long, the shop had to offer his position to his assistant manager.

So far Komei has over $100,000 in medical bills.

This couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. You always know when he's around because he's always got his booming, infectious laugh in tow. "It could have happened to anyone" was the answer I got from him after I asked him about how he felt about what happened. "I don't hate him for what he did. His life has been changed forever."

Komei is the type of person that sees the good side of people and the brighter side of things. "This situation is making that a lot harder to do," he says. "The support I've received from my friends and family is helping to bring me back to where I used to be. Where I need to be."

"I just want to get through this and put it behind me."

This is where you come in. Komei's been quick to help a friend in need, and now he desperately needs our help.

How you can help

Tell your friends, and come to the show

We're planning a concert to raise money for Komei on November 17th at Hensley's Pub (the old Squid Joe's) at 7 PM. Dynamite Walls will take the stage at around 9 PM, and pre-show entertainment will be provided by DJ Savage. We'll be either raffling off or giving away some sweet swag from local action sports companies as well. There's no cover, but we'll be requesting a $10 donation at the door. The address:

Hensley's Flying Elephant Pub & Grill
850 Tamarack Ave.
Carlsbad, CA 92008

If you're anywhere near the area, come on out for the show. In fact, tell everyone you know to come to the show. Let's pack this place and raise some dough to help Komei out.

Sponsor the show

We're looking for items for a raffle or silent auction. If you or your business can donate, please let me know in the comments. Make sure to leave enough information for me to contact you. If you can sponsor the show, we'll make sure to give you props.


For those of you who can't make it to the show, Komei's sister Christina has set up a benefit account for him. We've hooked that up to PayPal that you can donate to right now using a major credit card (or your PayPal account, if you have one). To do that, just click on the "Donate" button below.

Thanks for reading. Please pass this on. The more people who know, the better.

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