JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Isle visitors Anthony Williamson and Sheray Barrett, here to wed, saw aloha spirit triumph after Barrett's bag was stolen.
After Waikiki theft, couple gets help before wedding
A California couple's dream of a Hawaii beach wedding seemed to vanish in the clutches of a Waikiki thief, but the aloha spirit and the bride's optimism might save the day.
Sheray Barrett, 18, and Anthony Williamson, 23, of Lodi were to marry today on Waikiki Beach. They thought a Hawaii vacation was out of their reach, then his employer sent him to work on Oahu for a month. Friends and family pitched in to send Barrett, who arrived Thursday evening for a planned wedding today.
Right after she got to Waikiki, she went to take a quick dip in the warm Hawaii waters. She left her bag, containing $350 in cash and her identification, on the beach, thinking it was safe since she was just about 20 feet away in waist-deep water.
"I was just coming out of the water when he grabbed my bag," Barrett said. "I started screaming and nobody did anything, and he ran right by the police station and nobody did anything."
The stolen bag also contained Barrett's driver's license, clothes, a cell phone and camera. The money was supposed to pay for a wedding package and a honeymoon on Kauai. "On my wedding night, I was going to surprise my husband. We were going to Kauai," she said.
Williamson worries that without ID, his fiancee will not be able to obtain a marriage license or get on a plane Monday to go home. But Barrett remained positive, saying, "It's not all lost. We're still here. We're still together. I'm safe."
Barrett, a nursing student, hopes the Health Department will take a police document verifying the theft of her ID and issue a marriage license.
And the experience has not soured the couple's feelings toward Hawaii. A woman who said she works nearby and identified herself only as Tammy learned of the couple's plight, assisted them to get help from the Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii and offered to contact her boss to perform the ceremony. Another worker gave Barrett $20.
"I've never seen hospitality like around here," Williamson said. "People here are amazing, but some of the people around here are not so great."
Sgt. Darren Nihei of the Waikiki police substation said of beach thefts, "It's a crime of opportunity. If someone sees an unattended item on the beach, it's very possible."
Last night, VASH secured an ocean-view room at the Sheraton-Waikiki Hotel for the couple. They also assisted with meal vouchers.
"We're just happy they'll have their privacy on their wedding night," said Jessica Lani Rich, VASH president and executive director.