Ex-Hawaii man Paul Tailele's former wife says a premonition may have prompted him to buy $300,000 in coverage.

Bridge’s isle victim
just bought insurance

Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY >> Paul Tailele's travels as a truck driver took him all over the country, but he always managed to find time for his children.

The 39-year-old former Hawaii resident who lived in Magna, Utah, would schedule his routes so he could attend his daughter's basketball games and his son's football games.

It was with his daughter, Shakira, that he spoke his last words Sunday morning, saying he was at a bridge and had to go.

Tailele's tractor-trailer rig full of books was at the Interstate 40 bridge in eastern Oklahoma near Webbers Falls just as the bridge was struck by an out-of-control barge and about to collapse into the Arkansas River. He was among the 14 people to die.

"Those kids are his life," his former wife, Ronette Tailele, said of Shakira, 14, and Jeremy, 13.

Tailele, known as "Junior" by his friends and family, was born and raised in Hawaii and moved to Magna, outside Salt Lake City, in 1989.

He was 17 when he left Laie for the mainland 22 years ago, but he planned to move back this summer, according to his brother Peter Tailele of Laie. His parents still live in Hawaii.

"We weren't good mates," Ronette Tailele said, "but we were good parents."

Usually his routes took him through Texas, but it is spring, and Tailele wanted to go back east. He had traveled to West Virginia and was on his way home via Las Vegas when the bridge collapsed.

Ronette Tailele said she believes he somehow knew he was going to die.

Three weeks ago, Tailele purchased a $300,000 life insurance policy naming Ronette Tailele and the children as beneficiaries, she said. When she asked why, Ronette Tailele said he just shrugged.

"The kids always missed him when he was gone," she said.

"I just tell them he'll be here with us all the time now. Hopefully, we can take comfort in that."

E-mail to City Desk


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2002 Honolulu Star-Bulletin