CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Sherry Martinez, a Kahuku resident, prayed yesterday near the site of two crashes that killed four teens last weekend. Martinez has a teenager of her own and was concerned about the deaths and how they occurred.
Friends grieve for 4 teens
Kahuku students make posters and reminisce about the youths killed in 2 crashes
GRIEF SMOTHERED Kahuku High and Intermediate School yesterday for four people killed Saturday in separate crashes.
"It's too hard to believe," said Thomas Shea, a senior at Kahuku High, as he stood yesterday at the bus stop across from the school.
Many students grieved over the deaths of visitor Pepe Naupoto, 15; former student Alithia Ah Nee, 16; graduate Summer-Lynn Mau, 19; and student Orem "Benson" Kauvaka, 16.
Principal Lisa DeLong said in a written statement yesterday that the school has "a team of counselors and other personnel to support students on campus who are grieving over the loss of friends and family members."
Students were making posters at school to post at the crash site, said Tory Domingo, a junior.
Naupoto and Ah Nee died in the crash of a stolen car at 4:24 a.m. Saturday. About 19 hours later, Mau and Kauvaka died after a truck plowed into them while they were laying flowers at the crash site.
According to the Department of the Medical Examiner, Ah Nee and Naupoto died from multiple blunt-force injuries due to a car crash. Mau and Kauvaka died from multiple internal injuries, also due to a vehicle crash.
Some students reminisced how they grew up with the victims.
"I knew him all my life, pretty much," Shea said about Kauvaka.
He recalled how he hung out with Kauvaka and Naupoto at a dance held at the school just a couple of days before the crashes occurred.
"It's pretty devastating," Shea said. "Both of them were really great kids and good friends of mine."
Naupoto, born in Tonga, was staying with his aunt and uncle, Olini and Ilaisa Maile, in Kahuku for about four to five months before his death.
Naupoto's father died last year, and he wanted to come to Hawaii because his younger brother is here, said his aunt. "It was really hard for him when his dad passed away," she said.
Naupoto dropped out of high school in Texas before he came to Hawaii. He planned on returning to Texas this week in hopes of returning to school, his aunt said.
Maile said they returned home at about 11 p.m. Friday from the Punahou-Kahuku football game at Aloha Stadium. Some guests came over, and Naupoto went to a community park without telling his aunt and uncle. "We thought he was still in the garage," Maile said.
At about 5 a.m. the next day, the Mailes received a phone call from one of their nephews that Naupoto was involved in a fatal car crash.
"We were shocked, like totally heartbroken," said Lena Wilkins, a junior at Kahuku High, of when she learned of Ah Nee's death.
Wilkins wore a small black-framed tag pinned to her blouse with a red ribbon and small white rose attached that read, "In loving memory of Alithia, keep extra safe this school year."
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Flowers and balloons were left along Kamehameha Highway in Hauula yesterday at the site of two crashes that killed four teenagers over the weekend. Police said both drivers were speeding.
Sitting at the bus stop in front of the school, junior Annie Ernestburg said Ah Nee lived next door when they were younger, and they used to play together.
"There was a puka in my fence, and we would just talk to each other," she said.
She also knew Mau and Kauvaka, saying they were only paying their respects to their friends, not knowing they would never return home, she said.
Ernestburg questioned why Naupoto and Ah Nee were out at 4 a.m. when they were only 15 and 16. "I think parents should be more strict (about curfew), especially after this," she said.
If the first crash did not occur, then the deaths of the Mau and Kauvaka would not have happened, she said. Following the crashes, Ernestburg said she does not want to leave her home, noting it is the safest place.
"It's all about carelessness," said Don Hurlbut, of the Koolauloa Neighborhood Board, who represents the Kahuku area, adding that there is a 35 mph posted speed limit where the crashes occurred. "Obviously, they were going faster than that," Hurlbut said of Naupoto, who was driving early Saturday, and of the 21-year-old woman who was driving that night. Police had said both drivers were speeding.
"If you follow the rules and regulations, everything will be fine," he said.
Domingo said it is known in the community to slow down at the curve on the highway near Kokololio Bridge where the crashes occurred.
Fusi Livai, coordinator of the Kahuku 3rd Tongan Ward seminary at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said many students sobbed yesterday morning over Kauvaka's death.
Since he was a freshman, Kauvaka attended seminary at 6:30 every morning before going to school. Yesterday, seminary students wrote in their personal journal of memories they had of Kauvaka and what they learned from him.
Livai said her foster son, Kelii, 16, who attended seminary with Kauvaka, remains shaken. He spoke to a counselor yesterday to deal with his grief over Kauvaka's death, she said. He has been crying since it happened, Livai said.