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Hawaii inspired crash victim's art and livelihood


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POSTED: Monday, November 02, 2009

Maui artist Gianna Marie Mitchell's passion for art reflected her love of surfing and the islands.

“;She was just so enchanted with being in the ocean,”; said her mother, Barbara Mitchell, by phone from Florida.

Mitchell, 31, of Lahaina died yesterday from injuries she sustained in a single-car crash in Paia.

At about 10:12 p.m. Saturday, Mitchell was traveling southbound on Baldwin Avenue in a 1996 Toyota Corolla when she lost control of the vehicle. Police said she crossed the center line, veered onto the left shoulder and struck a dirt embankment before the vehicle rolled onto its side, one-fifth of a mile from Holomua Road.

Mitchell was partially ejected and pinned under the car. She was taken to Maui Memorial Medical Center in critical condition and died yesterday morning.

Mitchell was not wearing a seat belt. Police said alcohol is being investigated as a possible factor in the crash.

Family members described her as an adventurous, confident and warm-hearted woman who enjoyed surfing and painting. “;She was a such a beautiful spirit,”; said her mother.

Mitchell moved to Hawaii in 2000 from her hometown of Tallahassee, Fla., after she graduated from Florida State University. Her trip to the islands was meant to be a short adventure before returning to Florida to go to law school.

But Mitchell fell in love with Hawaii and decided to make it her new home.

Mitchell worked as a hostess and server at the Milagros Food Co. restaurant in Paia.

Her passion for painting started when she was a child. Her Web site at http://www.giannamitchell.com features several pieces of her artwork, including many wave paintings.

On her Web site she wrote, “;Moving to Hawaii straight out of college is one of the best decisions I've made. I learned how to surf my third day living in Lahaina and west Maui has been my home ever since. Living here is a constant reminder of how beautiful life is.”;

She remained close with her family members in Florida despite living more than 4,500 miles away, said her father, Steve Mitchell. Last month she returned to her hometown on a two-week vacation. “;We didn't allow the distance to diminish our love and relationship at all,”; said her mother, who spoke to her daughter every day.

“;I'll so miss hearing her voice every day,”; she said as her voice choked up.

Along with her parents, she is survived by her younger brother, James, who turned 27 yesterday.

Funeral services are pending.