By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
Anselmo and April Desaavedra talk about their niece and nephew.
Hickam coupleBy Gregg K. Kakesako
reflects on young
nieces active life
Seven-year-old Danielle Williams was supposed to begin modeling class this weekend.
She loved her Barbie dolls, her in-line skates and most of all her older brother, Dorian.
Although only a second-grader at Mokuele Elementary School, Danielle already knew she wanted to be a schoolteacher or a veterinarian.
"She tried everything," said her uncle, Staff Sgt. Anselmo Desaavedra with whom she and her brother, Dorian, 9, lived with at Hickam Air Force Base.
"She wanted to take gymnastics and modeling."
On Mother's Day, Danielle took her first hike into the Koolau Mountains to swim at Sacred Falls with her brother.
It was her uncle and aunt, April's, favorite place to hike on Oahu.
Now neither Desaavedra, who is from Martinsburg, W.Va., nor his wife ever want to return.
There are too many painful memories after a rain of boulders and rocks took Danielle's life on Sunday and placed Dorian in Kapiolani Hospital with head injuries.
Dorian is hospitalized with a skull fracture and injuries to his back, Anselmo Desaavedra said. "There are bruises to his brain, but the doctors don't believe there is any brain damage.
"He's able to get out of bed ... but he says his head still hurts and he gets dizzy."
Anselmo Desaavedra said Dorian only learned about his sister's death Tuesday night. "He was flipping through the channels when he saw the newscast and he started asking questions."
Originally, the family had planned to hike to the Hauula waterfall Saturday.
But other things came up, and Anselmo Desaavedra said the family wasn't even supposed to make the trip on Mother's Day.
"But when I got up the kids were in their bathing suits and ready to go," he said.
They got to Sacred Falls a little past noon and by 2:30 p.m. were planning to leave.
Anselmo Desaavedra said the two children had been swimming and were out of the water when the boulders started falling.
"The first thing we heard was loud thunder," said Anselmo Desaavedra, who was on the opposite side of the valley from the landslide.
"The first thing I saw was a cloud of rocks. There was no time to react ... I tried to cover April."
"I don't think Danielle ever knew what happened," April Desaavedra added. "We talked to Dorian and he knew what had happened. ... It kept coming.
"And then it was over. We jumped up and looked for the kids. I don't remember hearing anything."
Anselmo Desaavedra said he went to Dorian who was lying on his stomach with a bad gash on his head.
"I took off my shirt to try to stop the bleeding ... then I tried to move. It was killing me that I couldn't help both of them."
Just moments earlier, Anselmo Desaavedra said, Dorian and Danielle had been playing with the children of Air Force Master Sgt. Scott Huling and Tech. Sgt. Rodney Woodington.
Huling was killed during the landslide; his wife, Kanya, suffered a broken arm. One son remains hospitalized. Two others escaped with minor injuries.
One of Woodington's daughters had to have toes on her left foot amputated because they were crushed.
A memorial fund has been set up in the name of the 7-year-old Hickam Air Force Base dependent who was killed in Sunday's Sacred Falls landslide.
Contributions can be made to: Danielle Williams Memorial Fund; Hickam Federal Credit Union; P.O. Box 30025; Honolulu, HI 96820.