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Family's rally warns against drunken driving


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POSTED: Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Waianae family marked the anniversary of a beloved child's death yesterday with a sign-waving memorial warning motorists not to drink and drive.

; Family, friends and community organizations joined Samuel “;Kamu”; and Erica Miles at the scene of the traffic accident in Nanakuli where their 3-year-old son, Koa Paka, died on May 15, 2008. The young parents, carrying a koa urn with the child's ashes, led about 50 people on a 1-mile walk along a beach trail from Nani Kai Beach to the scene. Koa Paka's sisters, Ka'ohulani, 2, and Kaimi, 3 months, came along in the arms of family members.

“;We want to make the statement that drunk driving is not allowed in our neighborhood because of what it does to us,”; said Kamu Miles, a federal contractor.

“;The speedway ends at the cemetery,”; said a banner carried by friends wearing T-shirts dedicated to Koa Paka inscribed “;poina ole ia”;—never forgotten.

Miles was driving toward Waianae with his son and three other people when his car was pushed off the road into a parked vehicle by a speeding pickup truck. The truck driver was also killed in the crash.

“;He flew out of the car, still in his car seat,”; said Koa Paka's grandmother Malia Miles. “;He looked at his daddy and smiled. And then he slept.

“;It took a big part out of us,”; she said.

Her husband, Austin, died two days before the child's death.

“;It helps with the healing to do something. I believe we are making a dent out there against drunk driving.”;

The grandmother said, “;I was so angry, I literally chased speeders. I drove my car to block two lanes on my street to stop speeders. Slowly I got rid of the anger. Now I'm on a journey against drunk driving.”;

State Rep. Maile Shimabukuro (D, Waianae-Makua) said Mothers Against Drunk Driving, AARP, the Police Department and Leeward Coast community groups joined forces when they heard about the father's idea for the memorial.

The program began with children from Punana Leo o Waianae, a Hawaiian immersion preschool that Koa Paka was going to attend, joined in a chant for enlightenment and a hymn.

The memorial ended back at Nani Kai Beach with a sunset candle-lighting service and storytelling about the short life of a rascally boy.

Kamu Miles said, “;I share stories about my son—that helps me. It soothes my soul.”;