SAN FRANCISCO – Cable car operators gathered at the Cable Car Barn and Powerhouse but it was not to report for duty.
On Saturday, Jan. 23, they came to pay respects to their fallen colleague, Filipino American Rey Morante.
The iconic San Francisco cable cars were shut down that morning so operators could honor Morante.
Jimmy Tupas, fellow Fil-Am cable car operator, said, “We are all like a tight family out here and whatever cultures we are we get along very, very well so this is a very good tribute we could send off for one of our very good friends.”
Jorge Jimenez added, “He’s a brother. He’s a father. He’s a co-worker. So we all, not just cable car, Muni, Kirkland, all divisions – we’re sad that we lost a good man.”
And retired cable car operator James Waterfield said, “I thought it was important for me to come to show my respect and solidarity with the operators for when I heard this it hurt me tremendously.”
Morante died Tuesday morning, Jan. 12 after being in a coma due to injuries sustained by being hit by a suspected drunk motorcyclist last June.
Morante was allegedly struck by William Kanta Makepeace’s motorcycle as he had stepped off his cable car to smoke a cigarette.
Makepeace was charged with two felony counts of driving under the influence of alcohol causing injury. He is currently out on bail.
Meanwhile these operators are left with memories of Morante that they say they’ll cherish forever.
Charles Mundy said, “After I had my surgery, I had cancer of the throat, they took out my voice back. Rey told me I was an inspiration to him because I got through and I fought cancer and I won the battle and I continued to work rather than retire. He told me that if I could do that that he felt it gave him inspiration and he could do anything and he can continue on. I love Rey and I miss Rey. God bless him and his family.”
Rolando Gumpal, close friend of Morante, added, “If I could describe Rey – he was respectful, loving, and always caring for his friends. Rey, I always care for you and no matter what I know you’re in good hands now with God and you’ll always be my brother no matter what. You’re Illocano, Pangasinan like me we’re the same and I will always miss you.”
Morante is survived by his two children, Josephine and Andrew.
A Gofundme account has been set up to help assist in funeral expenses.