'For our family it is devastating'


POSTED: Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Two brothers and their cousin will be buried side by side this weekend at a small cemetery in Keanae, Maui.

All three were victims of a single-car crash last week in Waihee.

Their families say that although they lived in Central Maui, they remained rooted in their Hawaiian culture and their ancestral ties to the rural taro farming community of Keanae in East Maui.

“;For our family it is devastating,”; said cousin Oralani Koa. “;The hardest part is they are all so young, they were all good boys, they were all raised right and they were all very respectful. And all three never really knew the impact they had on so many people,”; she said.

Brothers Na'ilima Jacob Henry Kana, 20, and Jared Kalamaku Kana, 17, along with their cousin Tyson Kepo'ikai Latham, 20, had gone out to dinner last Wednesday night at the Asian Cuisine restaurant in Kahului, where they often went for discount sushi.

But on their way back to the Kana residence in Waihee, their vehicle swerved out of control and overturned, coming to rest against a tree on Kahekili Highway. The accident occurred shortly after 10:30 p.m., just one driveway away from their intended destination. None was wearing a seat belt, according to police.

“;Passing that spot every day is a constant reminder of their loss,”; said Latham's aunt Liliana Koa. “;It's still very hard for the family to talk about.”;

According to police reports, excessive speed was a suspected factor.

“;They wouldn't drive recklessly or crazy,”; said Ashley Rosa, Latham's cousin and classmate. “;It shocks me that it happened. I've always trusted them and never felt like my life was in danger when I was with them.”;

The two older boys “;were like two peas in a pod,”; said Veralyn “;Sissy”; Frame of her son Tyson and his cousin Na'ilima. “;They fought yet they loved and agreed to disagree because they were alike in so many ways.”;

“;They were always trying to get the last word in,”; said Rosa. “;If Tyson said, 'Oh, my God,' Na'ilima would come back and say, 'My God,' too.”;

They were also both conscientious and caring when it came to family, Rosa said. “;They wouldn't just drop me off. They would get out of their car and walk me to the front door to make sure I was safely inside before leaving,”; she added.

“;They never knew that by doing those kinds of things, they would touch so many people,”; said Koa.

Na'ilima Kana, who was driving the car, a 2004 Mazda sedan, died at the scene. He was a Kamehameha Schools Maui graduate and worked as an editor at AKAKU: Maui Community Television.

Jay April, AKAKU president and chief executive officer, called him “;a bright light”; with a “;winning smile and dancing eyes.”;

“;We always appreciated his soft, gentle reminders on how to pronounce Hawaiian words correctly, and his enormous talent as an editor of our Maui Daily program far exceeded his years,”; April said on the station's Web site.

“;He was very responsible, always on time, very akamai (smart), independent, organized and a very good father,”; said Leinani Kana, Na'ilima's mother.

Na'ilima is survived by a 1-year-old daughter, Kahali'aoku'uhaola Emma Kana-Yarborough, who celebrated her birthday just one week before the accident. Her first name is translated as “;the remembrance of my everlasting breath.”;

Na'ilima's younger brother, Kalamaku, who was in the back seat, survived four days in critical condition before dying on Sunday.

“;Kalamaku was a simple person who didn't ask for much and was content with what he had,”; said his mom.

From working the taro patches to playing his acoustic bass guitar and strategizing at card games, Kalamaku was a hands-on person with a good sense of humor, his family says.

“;From the bottom up, he helped build our home,”; said his father, Jacob Kana. “;That's why it's so hard, because he's everywhere.”;


The Kana brothers had gone to Hawaiian immersion school through the eighth grade, but Kalamaku continued the cultural program through high school and was expected to graduate in the spring as one of 10 members of the 10th Kula Kaiapuni o Maui graduating class at King Kekaulike High School.

Students in the program earn their degree only after completing rigorous hours of training in protocol, chanting and genealogy. “;He was really looking forward to the special graduation ceremony. That was a big goal for him,”; said Leinani Kana.

Kalamaku, literally translated as “;the standing light,”; is compared to the traditional kukui nut torch that is strung on a bamboo stick.

“;When a lamaku is first lit, the flame that burns from that torch is magnificent, brilliant and bright; then as it continues to burn, it resumes a regular intensity,”; said Pulama Collier, a teacher with the Hawaiian Immersion Program.

“;In his short time here, his life was brilliant,”; said Collier. “;Although tragic, Kalamaku's light continues to burn with a steady intensity, pulling his classmates closer together and providing that inspiration of light and focus to carry them forward.”;

Na'ilima and Kalamaku were “;totally different”; people but complemented each other and balanced each other out, said Leinani Kana of her two eldest sons.

“;Each of our children have their own talents and their own gifts. We just want them to be successful in accomplishing their dreams,”; she said.

The two are also survived by brothers Kamauliola and Ka'ananalu; sisters Kanekapolei and Kaleinani; and grandparents Daniel Carmicheal and 'Awapuhi Ka'auamo Carmichael, and Jacob Kana Sr. and Charlene Kana. Na'ilima Kana is also survived by companion Risa Yarborough.

The Kanas' cousin Tyson Kepo'ikai Latham of Waiehu died Thursday at Maui Memorial Medical Center. He was the front-seat passenger.

Latham spent his youth in Keanae and attended Kamehameha Schools Maui before being hired as a summer lifeguard by the County of Maui.

His maternal grandmother and the Kana brothers' maternal grandmother are sisters who grew up in Keanae.

“;He was Mr. Aloha,”; said Veralyn “;Sissy”; Frame of her son Tyson. “;You put him in a room and he would know 10-15 people before he left.”;

“;He was so family-oriented, but beyond that he was responsible and had a good head on his shoulders,”; said Oralani Koa.

Latham was described as somewhat of a “;character,”; with a streak of good luck, a green thumb for planting and a keen knowledge of the Keanae region.

He knew the place names of Keanae, where the prized watercress grew, and that Piinaau was the piko, or main source of water, that fed the many taro patches below.

“;He was the best son a dad could have,”; said William “;Wade”; Latham as he held back tears. “;God made him so perfect ... but I guess Jesus loves him more.”;

“;He (Tyson) would never leave without saying, 'Love you,' and that's a good memory I have from the last time we spoke,”; said Koa.

“;We were so used to hearing his voice that it just feels so different. Each person had individual things about them that are now no longer there, and it just feels so empty without them.”;

Since Wednesday, friends and family have been visiting the hospital and the homes of the two families, offering support and comfort. “;They cook for us, pray for us; without them we cannot go through this,”; said Latham.

Tyson Latham is also survived by older sister Jana Frame of Hana and grandparents Ora Souza Latham and Verlin “;Bill”; and Kiele Ka'auamo Frame.

Services for the Kana brothers and Latham will be held Friday at St. Anthony Church in Wailuku. Visitation is from 3 to 9 p.m. with a service at 6:30 p.m. A separate viewing will be held from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday at the Camp Keanae YMCA gym, with burial to follow at St. Gabriel Church cemetery in Keanae.