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Monday, June 5, 2000

By Anthony Sommer, Star-Bulletin
Kapaa High School students left crosses and flowers where
two classmates were killed in a collision Friday on Kauai.

Kauai left
reeling by deaths
of Kapaa students

Police say young drivers present
a problem every year at
graduation time

By Leila Fujimori


The auto accident in which two Kapaa High School juniors were killed Friday has deeply shaken the small Kauai community.

Today, Kapaa principal Gilmore Youn is meeting with counselors, a psychologist, Health Department case workers and Department of Education officials to arrange support for students, faculty and employees coping with the loss.

The accident occurred minutes after noon Friday when school let out for graduating seniors. The party atmosphere that prevailed tempted underclass students to join the seniors.

"We have Project Graduation so they don't have accidents after graduation," said Youn. "Now we need something for the three or four hours before graduation."

Clinton Nakagoshi, Tyler Alesna and Torao Nakamura were heading toward Kapaa on the Wailua side of the Kapaa Bypass Road, when the four-door sedan they were in crossed the center line. An oncoming pickup truck, driven by Kapaa senior Aaron Marvin, broadsided the car.

Alesna died soon after the accident, and Nakagoshi, reportedly the driver of the car, died at 1 a.m. Saturday at Queen's Medical Center.

By Anthony Sommer, Star-Bulletin
The only other trace of the accident on Kapaa Bypass
are the skid marks that end abruptly.

Police say alcohol was not involved, but speed may have been a factor.

The road, which cuts through a sugar-cane field, bypasses Kapaa town and has a 35-mph speed limit, except on numerous curves where it slows to 25 mph.

The accident scene, marked by broken glass and three wooden crosses covered with flowers, is on the Wailua side of the bypass road just past a curve.

Rene Alesna of Kapaa recalls thinking it odd her son's car was still parked at the school when she passed by well after 2 p.m.

"I heard about the accident, not thinking he was involved," she said. Then she got a call from her daughter at Wilcox Memorial Hospital.

Alesna rushed to the hospital, but it was too late. Tyler, her youngest child and only son, had died. He had been sitting in the rear seat of the car.

Classmate Ryan Boyer describes Tyler as "cool and calm -- not rough, a humble person who never did bad things."

The 16-year-old spent a lot of time pig hunting and ulua fishing with his father, Andrew Alesna.

"He was good in everything," said the boy's father. "He was one real hero to me. And he was good at home, not the type to make trouble. Anything you tell him, he does.

"Only thing, we lost him too early."

Clinton Nakagoshi was "the life of the family," said maternal grandmother Loretta Boro. She said the close-knit family, especially Clinton's two older brothers, were taking the loss very hard. "He was the lively one, very personable with lots of friends."

Nakagoshi, 16, was the youngest child of Donna and Thomas Nakagoshi of Kilauea.

Boyer, Nakagoshi's friend since the second grade, said he was a talkative and funny guy they called "Preemie" because of his size, who enjoyed playing video games and got good grades.

Torao Nakamura, 17, the front-seat passenger of the car, was taken to Wilcox Memorial Hospital, where he remains in stable condition after surgery.

Marvin, the driver of the truck, called his mother, Cindy Marvin, from the accident. She drove to the scene.

Although she was relieved that her son suffered only minor back and neck injuries, the Kilauea mother said, "I grieve for those parents who lost their children."

The 17-year-old was treated for minor injuries at Wilcox and released, then marched in Kapaa's graduation ceremony Friday evening, which dispelled rumors of his condition.

"It was a bittersweet moment," Cindy Marvin said, but it was important for her son to go through the ceremony.

Police said young drivers on Friday, like graduation day every year, posed a problem.

A Kauai tradition involves students driving their cars painted with signs, flying school banners and honking horns.

"We spent the whole day chasing kids burning rubber and caravaning," said one Kauai police officer. Police stopped 100 cars in Nawiliwili soon after the accident that were caravaning.

Youn, the principal, called on parents, the county and the community to end the practice.

He said it tempts other students, not just seniors, to participate.

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